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GOP-funded group continues its anti-Haugen campaign

This is one of the recent fliers sent out by a Republican-funded political action committee that
This is one of the recent fliers sent out by a Republican-funded political action committee that's critical of Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen.
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With just a week to go before Election Day, the hits just keep coming.

Negative campaign fliers, that is.

The nasty mailbox-ad campaign to unseat 10th District Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen hasn’t stopped. Over the weekend four new, large, glossy fliers were sent to voters alleging, among other things, that Haugen doesn’t want young girls to have healthcare, that she’s responsible for the state’s budget deficit, that she’s a recipient of special-interest money and, finally, that Haugen has voted twice to send sex predators back to the county where they found their victims.

Each flier directs people to visit a Web site that reiterates the charges against Haugen.

Haugen, of course, is angry with the ads.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in all my years in the Legislature,” she said. “The ads are filled with falsehoods and half truths.”

For example, she said the sex offender charge was misleading.

“It was a Republican-sponsored bill that everyone, from both sides of the aisle, voted for,” Haugen said. “It increased the level of monitoring of offenders and was designed to ensure no single county would end up with a disproportionate share.”

She noted that Island County Sheriff Mark Brown believes that sex offenders are much less likely to re-offend if they’re surrounded by family and get support once their sentences are finished.

“He monitors them closely and, thanks to the bill we passed, has the resources to do it,” she said.

She said her opponent, Linda Haddon, could stop the smear campaign in a second if she wanted to.

“She goes to the Senate Republican Caucus and tells them to stop it. That’s where the money comes from, the Republicans Leadership Council.

“Fortunately, I know my constituents are a lot smarter than the Republicans give them credit for,” she said.

The fliers were distributed by the Citizens Action Group, a political action committee based in Bellevue that was formed on Oct. 3. The same group mailed an ad two weeks ago comparing Haugen to former Soviet KGB chief Yuri Andropov.

Repeated calls to the group’s treasurer, Ryan Clark, went unanswered Tuesday.

Haugen’s opponent, Republican Linda Haddon, said she has nothing to do with the ads and is helpless to halt their distribution.

“I’ve asked people not to send them,” she said late Monday. “They haven’t asked my permission and I did not approve them. That’s not the way I run my campaign.”

Haddon stopped short of condemning the ads, stressing instead that she’s sorry they’re still coming through the mail to voters.

“They aren’t coming from me,” she said when asked again if she condoned or condemned the fliers.

Haddon noted that the law says there is to be no coordination of effort between campaigns and independent political-action groups.

“I would not do this,” she said.

The mailer was prepared by Pinnacle Direct, Inc., a direct-mail firm based in Stillwater, Minn. that has worked extensively with Republican campaigns.

The Citizens Action Group paid Pinnacle $71,554 over the past week, according to records on file with the state Public Disclosure Commission. That amount included $27,573 for postage and $10,064 for printing the direct-mail piece.

The Citizens Action Group has raised $375,000 to spend on the election this year, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. Of that amount, $50,000 was donated by The Reagan Fund, a political-action committee formed by the Washington State House Republicans, on Oct. 9 and Oct. 13.

The rest of the group’s campaign war chest, $325,000, came in contributions made on Oct. 7, Oct. 10 and Oct. 13 by the Leadership Council, a political action committee run by Senate Republicans.

Haugen said the ads may be backfiring.

“We’ve heard from voters offering us money for my campaign because they are angry about them,” Haugen said. “All I can say is, if we have no respect for each other, what do people think of us?

“It’s very sad.”

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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