Independent uses Republican's pledge for clean campaign to urge him to call off GOP attacks

06/13/2013 03:53 PM

John-Mark Hack, the former Democrat turned independent, on Thursday urged the GOP nominee in the 56th state House District — Lyen Crews — to call off attacks by Republican groups on the Democratic contender, James Kay.

Hack said he offered to both Kay and Crews to run a campaign without negative advertisements and to stick to the issues. While Kay didn’t respond, Hack received a voicemail from Crews, which Hack played for reporters at a press conference at the Woodford County courthouse.

Hack, Crews and Kay are competing in the June 25 special election to replace former Democratic Rep. Carl Rollins of Midway, who resigned in late April when he received a promotion at his job at the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. The 56th District covers eastern Franklin County, Woodford County and western Lexington.

The Republican State Leadership Committee, a D.C. based Super PAC launched a TV ad attacking Hack and the Democratic candidate James Kay, which the Hearld-Leader first reported last week.

Hack told reporters that he was encouraged when Crews had pledged to run an honorable campaign, but he said after the ads there was still time to keep his promise.

“I want to call on Mr. Crews for the second time to distance himself from the politics of personal destruction. To focus his campaign in the remaining days of this effort on the issues that matter to the people of this district, and I want to encourage the Democrats to do the same thing,“Hack said. “What Mr. Crews Campaign will say is that these messages are not generated from them. That is as insulting to the intelligence of the voters in this district as the messages themselves.”

Kelsey Cooper, the communications director for the Republican Party of Kentucky, was at the press conference in Versailles, and she told reporters the ads Super PAC choose to run on Lyen Crews behalf is out of his hands.

“Like he said, Crews has no control over the types of communications and messages that are coming out of these independent committees like the Republican State Leadership Committee. In fact it would be a felony if he was coordinating with them,” Cooper said. “His campaign will continue to focus on the issues.”

Kim Geveden, Hack’s campaign manager, noted the irony in Crews’ defense coming from a representative of a Republican group instead of from him.

Cooper then used her time in front of reporters to raise the question whether Kay’s campaign manager might have coordinated with a Democratic super PAC because they have previous ties.

“It’s come to our attention based on evidence that there has been a financial relationship between the same people running Kay’s campaign and (Kentucky Family Values Super PAC) and considering that Kay’s campaign is intimately involved with the Kentucky Democratic Party it makes us wonder if there is an illegal relationship going on there,” Cooper said.

However, that’s been a common claim for parties to raise in recent elections, yet both parties have failed to prove such coordination about the other simply on the fact that candidate campaign officials have worked before with organizers of super PACs.

“There has been absolutely no coordination. James Kay’s campaign strictly follows all campaign finance laws,” Chad Aull, the Campaign Manager for James Kay, told Pure Politics.

Woodford County Courthouse officials eventually asked Hack’s campaign to leave because the clerk’s office in the courthouse is a polling place and the presence of a campaign event could be considered electioneering, which must be done 300 feet away from a polling place, according to Kentucky law.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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