Democratic congressional hopeful Lisa Brown said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was using “scare tactics” after the congresswoman released campaign ads this week attacking Brown’s decades-old record on the housing of sex offenders.
The attacks, which are appearing on TV and in a mailer, according to readers who contacted The Spokesman-Review, revive a similar claim made against Brown by John Moyer, whom she challenged for a state Senate seat in 1996. Brown voted against a bill that would have given the Department of Corrections authority to prohibit certain convicted sex offenders from living within a quarter mile of a school.
Brown, in a debate in 1996 and again in a statement released Friday as ads began appearing in the Spokane market, called the bill “a political stunt.” The bill was referred to the Senate but never had a committee hearing and didn’t become law. The proposal restricted the buffer zone to elementary schools, colleges and universities. Brown said it also should have included preschools and day cares.
McMorris Rodgers, then a freshman legislator in the state House of Representatives, voted for the bill.
Brown defeated Moyer in that 1996 contest, earning the seat in the state Senate she held until 2012.
In 2005, Brown was one of 46 state senators who voted unanimously to establish what are known as “community protection zones” in the law. That bill, which remains on the books today, prohibits sex offenders from living within 880 feet “of the facilities or grounds of a public or private school.”
The mailer labels Brown “dangerous.” The Brown campaign said the ad used “scare tactics” and dredged up a claim “just as false now as it was then.”
“When this attack appeared in 1996, Lisa called it ‘a new low in political campaigning in Spokane,’ ” said Jack Sorensen, a spokesman for the Brown campaign, in a statement. “Twenty-two years later and it’s a new low in campaigning for the 5th Congressional District.”
Jared Powell, a spokesman for McMorris Rodgers, said the campaign was merely pointing out Brown’s past legislative votes.
“This is Lisa’s record, and she needs to defend it to the voters of Eastern Washington,” Powell said.
As of Friday, McMorris Rodgers and Brown have combined to spend more than $428,000 on local television ads, according to an analysis of Federal Communications Commission records conducted by The Spokesman-Review.
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