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Published: Thursday, 10/25/2007

Buehrer camp says Latta's claim inaccurate


The Ten Commandments say, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." Politics has a different set of rules.

The Ohio Elections Commission tomorrow will examine a complaint filed by state Sen. Steve Buehrer (R., Delta), who accuses his opponent in the 5th District congressional race of falsely claiming that Mr. Buehrer is against putting the Ten Commandments in schools.

"His voting record has been very strong for the Ten Commandments and prayer in school," said Jim Banks, the Buehrer campaign manager.

A mailer by state Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) tells voters: "Not only is Steve Buehrer opposed to prayer in school, he is also opposed to posting the Ten Commandments."

The mailer attributes Mr. Buehrer's position to a 2002 survey by Project Vote Smart, a Washington-based nonprofit group. Mr. Buehrer did not mark in the survey that he supported having prayer or the Ten Commandments in schools.

"We didn't make something up out of thin air," said Matt Parker, the Latta campaign manager. "We took a survey that was in the public domain."

Rules of the survey say candidates are not asked to indicate which policies they would oppose if elected, only those they would support.

The Nov. 6 primary election for the congressional seat held by the late Paul Gillmor has featured enough negative campaigning to cause Moses to smash the stone tablets displaying the Ten Commandments.

Mr. Latta previously filed a complaint with the elections commission over an e-mail and news release by the Club for Growth, a Washington-based political action committee, that the Buehrer campaign distributed.

It said that a 1998 vote by Mr. Latta in the Ohio Senate to put a tax increase on the ballot meant he voted for the increase.

Mr. Latta said the information was inaccurate because he voted against the increase once it was on the ballot.

The commission agreed with Mr. Latta, although it did not issue any sanctions against Mr. Buehrer or the Club for Growth.

The Buehrer campaign objected yesterday to a new TV ad by Mr. Latta. The ad uses harsh black-and-white video footage of Mr. Buehrer, who hired the Strategy Group for Media to tape him during his state Senate race last year.

The Ohio and Texas-based Strategy Group works for Mr. Latta in the congressional primary.

The Buehrer campaign expressed ethical concerns about the Strategy Group making footage it taped for Mr. Buehrer available to an opponent.

Scott Pullins, an attorney for the Strategy Group and Mr. Latta, said the firm owns the footage, not Mr. Buehrer.

Contact Joshua Boak at: jboak@theblade.com or 419-724-6728.

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