Bad publicity may hurt your search ranking position on google. I am going to make this real short. I have been a long term advocate of using ethical methods and best practices to rank better on search engines. Another important factor to pay good attention to is keeping quiet when things are good for you with google.
One good reason I do not share my client’s results publicly. Yet, we hold very good positions on the search engines. I just read an article from Information Week about how a chain of events that started from a New York Times article, led to google changing its algorithm once again so that they don’t reward bad behavior. It’s a good read and I’m sure you will learn a thing or two.