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Georgia Rep.’s Campaign Defends Ad

July 26, 2002

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ATLANTA (AP) _ A Georgia congresswoman began airing radio ads this week that criticize her opponent’s record as a judge, comparing her to an ``angry, out-of-control cop″ in California.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s radio spots, which began airing Wednesday, refer to a 1998 case in which Denise Majette, a former DeKalb County judge, sentenced a woman to two days in jail and a $1,000 fine for speeding. A higher court later vacated the sentence.

``Abuse of power is sometimes an angry, out-of-control cop beating up a teenager in California,″ the ad says. ``Sometimes it’s an angry, out-of-control judge like Denise Majette.″

McKinney campaign manager Bill Banks defended the apparent comparison to the Inglewood, Calif., police officer who was recently videotaped slamming a handcuffed teenager onto the hood of a car, then punching him. The ads target the judicial record that Majette has touted in her ads, Banks said.

``Her record indicates that, in a number of cases, she took actions that were harsh and vindictive,″ he said. ``What we’re trying to do is get people’s attention to her abuse of power.″

Majette spokesman Bob Doyle said McKinney’s charges are ``exactly the sort of over-the-top comments that folks people have come to expect from Cynthia McKinney.″

Ruthann Lariscy, a professor of advertising at the University of Georgia, said the ads will evoke a strong response because they implicitly compare her to police officer Jeremy Morse, who was charged with assault in the July 6 videotaped arrest of 16-year-old Donovan Jackson.

``That is clearly an abuse of power, and we’ve all seen it over and over,″ she said. ``These ads are saying this judge is like that police officer.″

McKinney, who is seeking a sixth term in Congress, is facing Majette in the Aug. 20 Democratic primary. McKinney is the only black woman in the state’s congressional delegation; her challenger also is black.

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