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October 19, 2013

Earls calls for investigation of 'ugly' campaign tactics

(Continued)

He said he has sent it to the state to investigate, “as I have previously requested an investigation into the aforementioned anonymous flier mailed city-wide.”

Such matters are typically handled by the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. As a matter of policy, the office would not confirm with the Daily News that it is probing the matter. And whatever conclusion it finds, it will not announce it publicly until after the election, per its policy.

State political campaign laws do not offer specifics on what, if anything, may be illegal about the anonymous letter. The letter does not meet the state’s legal threshold regarding illegal campaign finance activity. A minimum of $250 would have had to be spent on an anonymous effort to sway public opinion in order to qualify it as a violation of state law.

The arrival of the letter at Earls’ home is the third anonymous communication that has intruded on this campaign.

During the primary campaign, an anonymous flier appeared in thousands of mailboxes. In it, the author decried any private development on the waterfront, and urged voters not to vote for Holaday. The distribution of that flyer is estimated to have cost at least $2,500.

In a robo-phone call to hundreds of homes a day before the primary, an anonymous communicator offered similar criticism of the waterfront plans and said “I am taking a holiday from Holaday.” Estimates have placed the cost of those calls at at least $150 or more.

It’s not clear if the flier and the robocall were done by the same person or group.

Holaday said she asked the state to investigate both matters, as they appear to have violated campaign finance disclosure laws.

Earls said the recent letter was an example of “how strange and ugly this election is getting. I am not even in any city race, and dark-hearted people insist on throwing dirt around.”

Earls said that he has given Holaday and Sullivan copies of the letter.

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