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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Olympia

A three-year-old vote is resurrected for an attack ad…

As the days count down to November's election, Washington's second-most-expensive state Senate race is turning more ferocious.

Since Friday, Spokane residents have been opening their mailboxes to find large postcards that maintain that Sen. Brad Benson "voted to cover up sex crimes against our children."

The mailer – which features a photo of a hurt-looking girl clutching a teddy bear, as well as some Spokesman-Review headlines about alleged church and boys home sex abuse – focuses on a vote by Benson three years ago.

Benson, R-Spokane, called the mailing "a new low."

"I guess when you're desperate you dig deep and stretch things," said a fellow senator, Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, who voted the same way on the bill.

In 2003, Benson was one of 35 House lawmakers who voted against adding the clergy to the occupations required by law to report allegations of child abuse. The bill passed the House, only to die in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The new ad was sent out not by Benson's Senate opponent, Democrat Chris Marr, but by the state Democratic Central Committee. Marr says he doesn't condone the "sensational" format of the ad and wouldn't have sent it out himself. But he says it accurately reflects how Benson voted.

"Some people may not like the piece, but I say let's look at the legislation behind it," Marr said. "Brad cannot deny that he voted against it."

Click here for our story: more from Benson about why he voted no and comment from Marr and the Democrats about why they feel the vote is fair game.

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.