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Georgia Race Takes Nasty Turn

October 20, 1998

ATLANTA (AP) _ Georgia’s race for lieutenant governor took another nasty turn when Democratic candidate Mark Taylor filed a $1 million slander lawsuit against his Republican opponent, Mitch Skandalakis.

Taylor filed his lawsuit Monday in Fulton County Superior Court, claiming that a television advertisement by Skandalakis falsely suggests he sought help in a drug rehabilitation clinic and has a lingering cocaine problem.

``Politics is not about making things up, telling lies to destroy your opponent personally. This is a pattern that Mitch Skandalakis has developed,″ said Taylor, a state senator. ``He’s a serial slanderer and I have got to hold him accountable.″

Skandalakis, chairman of the Fulton County Commission, last week began airing a commercial that makes obvious reference to Taylor’s admission that he used cocaine in his 20s.

The ad shows a man in a robe and slippers walking down a hallway that could be in a hospital. ``Mark Taylor has some more problems to clear up before he runs for any office,″ an announcer says.

The ad later shows a picture of a rehabilitation clinic. The announcer says: ``Taylor, of course, has admitted he had a problem years ago. And we all wish those problems had been cured.″

Taylor contends the ad clearly implies that he sought rehabilitation and that he still uses drugs, both of which he denies. Taylor, 41, insists he stopped using cocaine more than 14 years ago.

Skandalakis declined to comment Monday. But he said last week he has reasons to believe Taylor has been admitted to the clinic shown in the ad, though he refused to provide evidence. Taylor has sent Skandalakis a letter from the clinic that says Taylor never has been a patient.

Skandalakis twice has been sued for slander or libel. He settled out of court both times.