AUGUSTA – Maine Republicans expressed outrage Friday over campaign literature sponsored by the Maine Democratic Party that attacks Sen. Brian Langley (R-Ellsworth) and Republican candidate Eric Brakey.
The Democratic mailers accused Langley of failing to protect children from toxic chemicals and Brakey of opposing women’s access to breast-cancer screenings.
“Maine Democrats have been lying their way into office for decades,” said David Sorensen, communications director for the Maine Republican Party. “But now, with [Gov.] Paul LePage in the Blaine House, they see the dysfunctional state government they created being reformed and they don’t like it.”
“Democrats have pulled out all the stops and are on pace for a record year of lies and distortions,” he said.
In a press release, Assistant Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz (R-Augusta) condemned the attacks on Langley as inaccurate and “vicious.”
“The direct mail ad that’s being distributed in Hancock County essentially accuses Brian of voting to poison children,” said Katz.
The campaign mailer refers to LD 1181, “An Act to Further Strengthen the Protection of Pregnant Women and Children from Toxic Chemicals.” The bill would have amended the “Kids-Safe Products Act,” a law meant to protect children from dangerous chemicals, by adding further requirements to the Department of Environmental Protection’s efforts to identify and ban certain dangerous chemicals.
The bill originally passed the Maine Senate in June 2013, but was vetoed by the Governor. In a roll call vote, Langley joined Republican lawmakers in sustaining the veto.
Senate Republicans claim that this is not the whole story. In 2012, Republican legislators passed a bill establishing guidelines for the DEP to identify dangerous chemicals and protect children from being exposed to them. Senate Republicans believed that L.D. 1181 was unnecessary and burdensome in light of previous legislation.
Republicans say Langley actually supported the previous legislation banning the chemical BPA, which was the central focus of the direct mail attack. Although the senator did not support L.D. 1181, he did support banning certain chemicals that could hurt children.
“To suggest in campaign literature that goes into peoples’ mailboxes that Senator Langley voted to expose children to toxic chemicals is beyond outrageous,” said Sen. Jim Hamper (R-Oxford).
In Androscoggin County, another set of mailers sent out by the Maine Democratic Party has also drawn Republicans’ ire.
The mail piece accuses incumbent Sen. John Cleveland (D-Androscoggin)’s Republican challenger Eric Brakey of opposing women’s access to mammograms, a common diagnostic test that can help spot breast cancer.
“Brakey opposes allowing women access to preventative care, such as mammograms,” the mailer states.
The mailer includes a citation that points toward Brakey’s official Twitter account and a Jan. 27, 2014 article in the liberal-leaning Portland Press Herald.
The problem, however, is that no such article exists. A search of the Press Herald’s website retrieves no article including Brakey’s name on that date.
Similarly, Brakey’s Twitter account has not posted any messages that can reasonably be construed as opposition to mammograms.
Examples of demonstrably false political attacks from other parts of the country are even more outrageous.
Arkansas Democrat U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor ran an ad accusing Republican candidate U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton of responsibility for the deadly Ebola virus. The ad must be seen to be believed.
The ad accuses Cotton of cutting funding for hospitals and opposing preparation for pandemics; both arguably fair points. However, the ad jumps into the surreal by claiming that the representative’s positions on these issues have directly exposed America to the deadly virus.
Not only is this ad a exaggeration of the facts (experts believe that an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. is unlikely at best), but it also exploits a tragic crisis that has killed and affected thousands.
Meanwhile in Alaska, Democrat U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has pulled an ad linking his Republican opponent to murder. The ad seems to be a rehashing of the infamous Willie Horton ad from the 1988 presidential campaign.
The 1988 ad claimed that candidate Michael Dukakis was responsible for the crimes committed by Willie Horton because Dukakis had allowed the criminal to leave jail through a furlough program.
Similarly, Sen. Begich claimed that his opponent, Attorney General Dan Sullivan, was responsible for the murder and sexual assault committed by convicted sex offender. The ad claims that by giving the criminal a light sentence, Sullivan allowed the man to murder an elderly couple and sexually assault a child.