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Eye On Boise

Thu., Oct. 28, 2010, 9:58 a.m.

Ad Watch: New Minnick ad says Labrador helped illegal immigrant flee charges

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick has a new campaign ad out today, focusing on a case GOP rival Raul Labrador handled as an attorney in 2001, in which his client, Carlos Araiza Lopez, was an illegal immigrant arrested in a major drug case in Nampa. After Labrador argued for releasing Lopez pending trial, Lopez was deported to Mexico; Labrador then argued the charges against him should be dropped, but U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge disagreed.

"Carlos Lopez didn't face justice," the ad says. "The U.S. Attorney's office questioned Raul Labrador's ethics, claiming that he had a 'specific and preexisting plan' to help Carlos flee to Mexico to avoid the charges. He was later caught after sneaking across the border again."

Phil Hardy, spokesman for Labrador's campaign, called the commercial "a disgraceful ad, a desperate attempt by a campaign in its death throes to save itself." He had no specific comment on the Lopez case, saying Labrador will address the issue during his Boise City Club debate with Minnick at noon today.

John Foster, spokesman for Minnick's campaign, said, "What the U.S. Attorney's office wrote in its response to the motion was very surprising and we thought something that people needed to know." He said the ad was long planned; it continues a theme from Minnick's earlier ads, closing with, "Raul Labrador's record on illegal immigration makes him wrong for Idaho." Minnick's campaign released a summary of the case citing specific federal court documents, plus listing four other cases in which Labrador, an immigration attorney, defended illegal immigrants; you can read it here.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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