|Validity of letters to editor questioned|
|Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Thursday, 31 October 2013 10:51|
As election races heat up this time of the year, political campaigns can become increasingly volatile under the pressure.
The Sentinel-Tribune unwittingly played a role in the back and forth during this cycle, printing three letters to the editor in Wednesday’s edition that may not have been genuine.
Concerning the race for Perrysburg Municipal Court Judge between Tom Mackin and Molly Mack, the letter authors took shots at Mackin similar to those made on an anonymous Facebook page last month. Written by Kelly McLaughlin, Pat Tulson and Kerry Coblin, they claim that Mackin’s pledge to a “nonpartisan” campaign conflicts with his prior work as a Democrat and ask voters to search for information online about Mackin’s connection to President Obama’s re-election campaign.
Mackin said the messages’ content mirrors others on the Facebook page, “Send Mackin Packin’,” which has since been removed.
The letters were submitted via email, and efforts to gather more information from the authors have been unsuccessful. Other than a Toledo listing for a Kelly R. McLaughlin, no information about the authors could be located by searching records of municipal and county courts, the county auditor, social media sites, directories and voter registries.
Mackin said he’s spoken several times about the matter with Molly Mack and her husband, Perrysburg Township Trustee Bob Mack, who both asserted that no one involved in their campaign had a role in the letters or the Facebook page.
Mackin called the efforts “disturbing” and said he believes Dan Lipian, a paid campaign consultant of Molly Mack, had a role in the deception.
“If a candidate has an out of control consultant, legitimate questions should be raised of that candidate’s ability to manage operations of a court,” he said.
Mackin said Bob Mack told him during a phone conversation that Lipian sometimes goes “too far.”
This morning, Bob Mack recalled that conversation differently. “I said we would talk to Dan and make sure he’s completely aware our campaign is focused on the merits of Molly.”
Both Bob and Molly Mack insist they’re committed to running a positive campaign and denounced the efforts to attack Mackin.
“We can only control what we have from our campaign,” Molly Mack said. “We don’t know what’s going on. We’re trying to get to the bottom of this as well.
“We didn’t have anything to do with it. We certainly want this to be a clean campaign. We wouldn’t condone any of that kind of action.”
“That’s not what we’re about,” Bob Mack said.
Lipian “has very strict mandates we’re running a positive campaign based on the merits of Molly,” he added.
Lipian had even stronger words for the claims made against him.
“The allegations are absolutely outrageous,” he said. “The Mack campaign had nothing to do with those letters.
“I’m disappointed that Mr. Mackin would engage in a baseless, last minute attack like this.”
The three letters were removed from the opinion section of the Sentinel’s website early Wednesday evening. If the existence of the authors is proven, the letters will be reposted. A response from Mackin is printed on page four of today’s edition, and the newspaper’s letter policy is to be tightened in response.
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