Senate candidates pull campaign ads

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Tuesday, September 2, 2014 9:41pm
  • News

JUNEAU — Television ads in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race have been pulled by the two major party candidates after complaints from the family of two slaying victims.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, began airing an ad last week trying to portray his Republican opponent, former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan, as soft on crime. The ad featured a man identified as a former Anchorage police officer standing outside the home where an elderly couple was beaten to death and a family member sexually abused in 2013. It ended with the man saying Sullivan should not be a senator.

Sullivan swiftly responded with an ad of his own, accusing Begich of trying to use the case for political gain. Begich’s ad did not name the suspect in the crimes, Jerry Active, but Sullivan’s commercial did, with Sullivan saying he “personally put criminals away for life, and that’s exactly where Jerry Active belongs.”

Active is scheduled to stand trial later this month. Sullivan’s campaign manager, Ben Sparks, said the response was necessary to counter Begich’s “desperate” attack.

Alaska’s Senate race has national implications, with Republicans seeing Begich as vulnerable as they strive to pick up six seats to gain control of the chamber. The ads also had a harder edge than others featured in the race so far.

An attorney for the victims’ families, Bryon Collins, asked that the ads be withdrawn. Sullivan’s campaign on Sunday called for TV stations to remove its ad, while a Begich spokesman, Max Croes, said the campaign would modify its ad to eliminate references to the case.

Croes said in the same statement that Sullivan “recklessly featured a name from a pending court case in a television ad, as an attorney and former attorney general he should have known better. His TV ad very clearly needed to be pulled from the air.”

But Collins, in a letter to the campaigns Monday, accused Begich’s campaign of “tearing this family apart,” to the point they want to leave the state.

“Again, to be perfectly clear, it was your ad that shocked them,” Collins wrote.

Begich’s campaign made a formal request to TV stations Monday to stop showing the ad. However, given it was Labor Day, the ads from both campaigns aired that day.

The families’ attorney said he confirmed Tuesday that the ads were down.

Begich, following an event in Juneau, said Sullivan had a “pattern when he was attorney general of doing these plea deals that let violent offenders, sexual offenders out earlier than they should be.”

Sullivan has defended his work as attorney general, saying he secured tougher sentences for violent criminals and moved to crack down on domestic violence and sexual assault.

He was appointed attorney general in June 2009, a position he held until late 2010. Begich’s campaign said Sullivan’s name appeared on a 2010 plea agreement with Active. It provided a link to a charging document with Sullivan’s name but signed by another prosecutor. Sullivan’s camp said a law enforcement report, predating his time as attorney general, failed to include Active’s prior felony conviction, which affected his sentencing in a 2010 case.

The Department of Law, which is overseen by the attorney general, says the plea deal “may have been incorrect and not consistent with the law.” It says the department, judge and the Department of Corrections failed to identify Active’s conviction before sentencing and noted the faulty law enforcement report.

Attorney General Michael Geraghty, in a statement released by Sullivan’s campaign, said the Begich ad attempting to hold Sullivan responsible for the 2013 crime “has no basis in fact.”

Geraghty told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he changed the plea bargain policy for more serious offenses but that he had not heard from prosecutors the kinds of claims Begich was making.

More in News

Copies of the Peninsula Clarion are photographed on Friday, June 21, 2024. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Announcing a new Peninsula Clarion print schedule

Our last Wednesday edition will be delivered June 26.

A bucket of recently caught sockeye salmon rests on the sand while anglers seek to fill it further at the mouth of the Kasilof River on Monday, June 26, 2023, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Dipnetting in Kasilof opens Tuesday

Dipnetting will be allowed at all times until Aug. 7

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Fish and Game restricts bait on Kasilof, Ninilchik Rivers

The use of bait on the rivers will begin Friday and extend to July 15 in Ninilchik, July 31 in Kasilof

A man fishes in the Kenai River on July 16, 2018, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion/file)
Slow sockeye fishing on Kenai, Russian Rivers

Northern Kenai Fishing Report for June 20

Alaska Department of Fish and Game logo. (Graphic by Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Bag limits doubled for sockeye salmon in Resurrection Bay

The increase is effective from June 21 to July 31

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Girl Scout Troop 210, which includes Caitlyn Eskelin, Emma Hindman, Kadie Newkirk and Lyberty Stockman, present their “Bucket Trees” to a panel of judges in the 34th Annual Caring for the Kenai Competition at Kenai Central High School on Thursday, April 18.
Caring for the Kenai winners receive EPA award

Winning team of the 34th annual Caring for the Kenai was selected for the President’s Environmental Youth Award

Norm Blakely speaks to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly approves resolution guiding efforts to increase voter turnout

The Voter Turnout Working Group was established to explore options and ideas aimed at increasing voter participation

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Update: Bodies of 2 men retrieved from submerged plane in wake of reported Moose Pass crash

A pair of hikers witnessed and reported the crash around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, trooper say

Most Read