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Published: Monday, 11/5/2001

Kest ads violate clean campaign pact, panel says

BY FRITZ WENZEL
BLADE POLITICAL WRITER

The Toledo-Lucas County Clean Campaign Committee cited Ray Kest's mayoral campaign yesterday for violating the principles of the agreement he had signed to run a campaign free of distortions or innuendo in his push for the top political office in northwest Ohio.

“The committee observes that the Kest campaign has fallen increasingly outside the boundaries established by the campaign pledge,” wrote Dr. Gary Blaine, a Unitarian Church minister who acts as spokesman for the citizen committee.

“More recent examples include the television ads that suggest that Mr. Ford is `two-faced.' By clear innuendo, the suggestion is that Mr. Ford's influence is `for sale,'” Dr. Blaine wrote. “The Clean Campaign Pledge that Mr. Kest freely signed prohibits the `use of subtle deceptions, half-truths, falsifications ... personal attack, innuendo.' These television ads offer visual images of Mr. Ford that are less than flattering and project a demeaning image of Mr. Ford.”

The committee, meeting yesterday afternoon, called Kest campaign literature misleading to the point of deception.

Mr. Kest and campaign officials did not respond to calls last night seeking comment.

A Kest flyer is entitled, “Can You Trust What This Man Says?” It asserts that “Jack Ford promises to do away with Affirmative Action on June 10th. A week later he says - I changed my mind. I'm going to keep it.”

The Clean Campaign Committee notes that Mr. Ford did not say he would do away with affirmative action, but the office of affirmative action. The tone of the flyer assails Mr. Ford's trustworthiness, wrote Dr. Blaine in a report released last night by the committee.

The ads hit local airwaves over the last weekend before the election tomorrow. A poll taken just over a week ago showed Mr. Kest trailing Mr. Ford by 14 percentage points, with 19 percent undecided.

Mr. Ford has received a clean bill from the committee.

“The conclusion of the Clean Campaign Committee is that the Ford campaign has subscribed and adhered to the principles of the Clean Campaign Pledge,” Dr. Blaine said.

The pledge, signed by both candidates in late August, was a first in American mayoral politics, said Brad Rourke, vice president for the Institute on Global Ethics, the Camden, Me., think tank that designed and promoted the pledge.



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