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Ruling issued over Assembly race campaign ad complaints

Ruling issued over Assembly race campaign ad complaints

Fair Campaign Practices of the Capital Region on Tuesday found both candidates in the 105th Assembly

Fair Campaign Practices of the Capital Region on Tuesday found both candidates in the 105th Assembly District race circulated distorted and misleading advertisements in two of three complaints it reviewed. It made no finding in the third complaint.

The six-member panel held hearings Monday on complaints lodged by Republican incumbent Assemblyman George Amedore Jr., R-Rotterdam, and Democrat Mark Blanchfield, a city of Schenectady councilman. Both had signed fair campaign pledges.

Amedore said he was vindicated by the panel’s decision regarding his complaint. He called on Blanchfield to pull the radio ad and a TV ad, saying it was time to debate the issues affecting the district.

Blanchfield said he agreed with the panel’s finding concerning Amedore’s “character attack on me, and I respectfully disagree with the other portions of the findings.”

He would not say whether he will pull his ads. “I don’t discuss my campaign strategy in the media.”

The panel found Blanchfield’s radio ad and his subsequent automated telephone messages violated the fair campaign principle that a candidate will not permit distorted or fabricated facts regarding an opponent. It said Blanchfield used a partial quote to present the impression that Amedore did not consider elected office his top priority.

The ad quotes Amedore as saying: “I have building in my blood, that’s my job. I don’t look at the Assembly position as my job.” The actual quote should have continued with the following sentence: “I look at it as serving, giving back,” the panel said.

“There is a long tradition in New York state of citizen-legislators who serve as lawmakers in addition to their regular occupations. Mr. Amedore considers himself in that tradition,” the panel stated.

In its second finding, the panel said a flier mailed by the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee implied Blanchfield lied by distorting Amedore’s words in the ad and phone message. The flier said: “Blanchfield and the Albany political bosses are distorting George Amedore’s words. Don’t believe their lies!” The flier, according to the panel, did not describe what Blanchfield had said that was untrue.

The panel said the flier would violate fair campaign practices had the Amedore campaign issued it, for it contained misleading statements that attacked a candidate’s character. However, as the state committee issued it, the panel found that Amedore only violated one principle, that he did not promptly disavow the flier.

On the third complaint, the panel issued no finding on the contents of an anonymous Web site, called “markstaxrecord.com.”

The panel said Amedore disavowed the Web site, although it was unclear when he became aware of its offensive material. The panel said the offensive material called Blanchfield a “union buster,” which it called untrue.

The panel said that while “these anonymous Web sites are very difficult to police, candidates have a duty to disavow such a Web site as soon as it is brought to his or her attention.”

Both Amedore and Blanchfield attended the hearings. Michael Cuevas represented Amedore.

Tom Buchanan, chairman of the Schenectady County Republican Committee, and Anita Thayer, Working Families Party steering committee chairperson, attended the hearing at ex-officio representatives.

The fair campaign organization is sponsored by the League of Women voters.

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