Mongiardo blames Conway for robocall but offers no proof

05/16/2010 07:06 PM

JEFFERSONTOWN — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Mongiardo on Sunday accused his chief rival, Jack Conway, of being behind robocalls that “doctors my voice and falsely states” his position on a cap-and-trade bill, although Mongiardo offered no evidence connecting Conway to the calls.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Mongiardo on May 16, 2010

“This weekend, Attorney General Jack Conway has insulted the voters of Kentucky by engaging in conduct unbecoming of a United States Senate candidate,” Mongiardo said at a hastily-called news conference at Chubby Ray’s Louisville Pizza Co. in Jeffersontown. “These calls are illegal and unethical. And as attorney general, Jack Conway should be enforcing the law, not breaking it.”

The automated telephone message claims to have Mongiardo saying “cap-and-trade is a good idea” to a group of environmentalists. Mongiardo says the “is a good idea” line isn’t his voice and the tape was doctored.  But the big issue with the message is that the man narrating the robocall fails to include a disclaimer saying what individual or group paid for the robocalls. ( cn|2 Politics reported on the calls Saturday.)

But Conway’s campaign has disavowed any knowledge or connection to the calls, which were made Friday night to some voters in Eastern and Western Kentucky.

“He’s accused me of a lot of things that aren’t true,” Conway said earlier Sunday while campaigning at the Lexington Legends baseball game. “I don’t know anything about them.”

Conway said he has been the subject of rogue groups’ robocalls in past elections. And, when pressed, he said he would ask the group responsible to stop running them.

“Daniel and I have both been pretty consistent on the campaign trail, saying that we don’t think the cap-and-trade bill that’s being discussed is a good idea for Kentucky,” Conway said. “I would acknowledge Daniel’s position on that issue.”

Mongiardo, the lieutenant governor who hails from Hazard in the heart of Eastern Kentucky coal country, has levied far harsher criticism against the cap-and-trade bill that the House voted for last year than has Conway, who lives in Louisville.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway on May 16, 2010

Conway’s campaign did authorize three robocalls on Thursday night featuring former Sen. Wendell Ford, state Auditor Crit Luallen and Louisville U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth all urging Democrats to get out and vote for Conway on Tuesday.

Mongiardo said it was suspicious that Conway’s campaign launched those robocalls at the same time the unclaimed cap-and-trade call went out.  All those calls, however, included disclaimers saying they were paid for by the Conway campaign.

Reporters repeatedly asked Mongiardo whether he had proof that connected the calls to Conway or his campaign.

“Where else would they be coming from?” Mongiardo said at one point.

He said twice that his proof was that “in 48 hours we have a United States Senate race between Jack and myself.”

“Listen for yourself. It doesn’t take an expert to understand that there’s a U.S. Senate campaign going on,” he said. “We’re in the closing days. Jack Conway and I are in a close race. And these tactics are coming from his camp and his supporters. He should stand up and denounce them. And he hasn’t.”

Mongiardo went on to say he wanted Conway to hold a press conference to say that the substance of the message is false and to urge the group responsible to stop.

“If he does not, Conway is but a puppet — a puppet not only for the established politicians that have been running this state for the past 60 years, but a puppet for the underground political establishment,” Mongiardo said. “Jack may be a millionaire lawyer, but those of us, including me, from rural Kentucky, will not fall for these desperate campaign tactics.”

State Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington who is supporting Conway, said Mongiardo holding a press conference to accuse Conway is an example of “ridiculous, silly comments that get thrown out at the end of an election.”

“The candidate who accuses someone of doing it, I think, is the one who gets hurt by it,” she said.

- Ryan Alessi


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