The war of words between the two Republican candidates for attorney general continued Wednesday after one sent the other a letter threatening legal action for defamation.
At a press conference Wednesday, Martha Dean, the endorsed Republican candidate, asked Ross Garber, her opponent, to retract the “false statements” he made about her in a glossy mailing.
The mailing included a photo of drugs and drug paraphernalia with the headline: “Martha Dean wants to decriminalize heroin and cocaine use.” It also stated that her approach to decriminalize drugs is out of touch because it will protect drug abusers and criminals, not law abiding citizens.
“I’ve never said or written the words cocaine or heroin,” Dean said in a phone interview Wednesday. She said she did mention the war on drugs in piece she wrote back on Oct. 29, 2001 for the Connecticut Law Tribune, but said her opponent should know the attorney general’s office has no lawmaking authority and doesn’t deal with criminal matters.
“I’m not the one who had the discussion about it on the campaign website,” Garber said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “I’m focused on talking about the issues.”
But Dean continued to allege that Garber was falsely smearing her.
In this letter to Garber, Dean requested a retraction of the statements before the Aug. 10 primary. She said if he agreed she won’t take any further legal steps.
“Mr. Garber’s representation that falsehoods are ‘facts’ in his campaign literature is an example of the behavior of the very worse type of politician – this is what we are trying to get rid of in Connecticut,” Dean added.
Garber said Dean made the right decision by not following through with legal action.
However, by deciding to post the article on her campaign website she made it an issue in the race, he said.
The article talks about finding ways to shift the resources from the war on drugs to a war on terror without paying for it with a significant tax increase.
“One of the programs that could be shut down immediately is the government’s ill-conceived ‘war on drugs,‘” Dean wrote in the article that appeared shortly after Sept. 11th. “This shut down is already occurring informally. With available federal and state law enforcement focused on terrorism, resources that would normally be focused on drug enforcement have been redirected.”
Dean said Garber’s mailing goes beyond “hardball campaign” tactics and as a lawyer she said Garber could be grieved for his actions.
“His untrue statements, posing as ‘facts’ supported by footnotes, are an example of the very worst types of lawyers and lawyering – the types of intentional distortions and outright falsehoods that Mr. Garber has disseminated are precisely what gives lawyers a bad name,” Dean said.
But Garber pointed out that Dean’s campaign isn’t exactly innocent of making unflattering remarks.
Dean’s campaign manager, Malcolm McGough, sent Garber an email Tuesday calling him “a fraud and wolf in sheep clothing.”