Former Candidate Indicted Under Law Against False Campaign Advertising
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ A losing congressional candidate has been indicted for a 1994 campaign ad that indirectly blamed his opponent for the kidnapping and rape of a Minnesota woman and her two daughters.
The ad claimed Bill Luther _ who went on to win the election for the 6th District congressional seat _ blocked a Tad Jude-sponsored crime bill in the state Legislature that could have kept a serial rapist behind bars.
The spot featured a police officer who said the bill could have prevented the 1990 attack and that sending Luther to Congress ``would be a crime.″ Luther, a Democrat, and Jude, a Republican, were vying for the seat vacated by Republican Rod Grams, who was running for the U.S. Senate.
The Jude-sponsored bill was considered in 1987. But the rapist in question was behind bars at that time, so would not have been affected by the bill that would have lengthened sentences for future offenders.
The Hennepin County grand jury indictment handed down Tuesday accuses Jude of participating in the preparation or dissemination of false campaign material, a violation of state law, according to Special Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Charlie Diemer.
``I hope that today’s action by the Hennepin County grand jury will help to end this kind of negative political advertising,″ Luther said in a statement Tuesday. ``It is unfortunate that it has taken a criminal proceeding such as this to deal with this practice.″
Luther won by just 550 votes out of 226,230 cast. Jude has already announced plans for a rematch in 1996.
``No one can be pleased to be accused of wrongdoing, but the legal process will clear away the political smog and demonstrate my innocence,″ Jude said at news conference. ``Political contests always provoke strong debate but I took good steps to ensure the accuracy of all of our advertising and public statements.″
The offense, a gross misdemeanor, is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and up to $3,000 fine.
Jude is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 11.