Jackley mailer leads to official complaint

State representative hopeful Lois McMahan filed a complaint last week with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), charging her opponent with “telling lies and distorting the truth” in his campaign materials.

McMahan claims Rep. Brock Jackley, D-Manchester, misrepresented facts about her legislative voting record in notices his campaign mailed to voters two weeks ago.

And, she said, it was not the first time.

“Last campaign, he came out with these very same lies,” said McMahan, who lost the legislative seat to Jackley in 2000. “We pointed out at that time that, ‘These are not true, we’ve got to a put a stop to this.’ ”

McMahan said she called Jackley after the campaign two years ago and accused him of misstating the facts.

“He said then, ‘I will never do that again.’ And here he is doing it again,” McMahan said. “We can’t just sit back and do nothing. It’s time to say enough is enough.”

McMahan said she takes issue with a list of what the mailer labels as “facts” about her voting record. Among other things, the list claims McMahan voted to weaken laws protecting women from stalkers, and that she voted against requiring criminal background checks on school employees.

McMahan says these statements are not true. She counters that her vote on the background checks for school employees was actually a vote against a last-minute amendment to the budget that would provide extra funding for the program, and she claims the stalker bill she voted on actually strengthened the laws protecting women, not weakened them.

McMahan characterized the statements on Jackley’s mailer as a calculated move.

“I know why (his campaign) did it,” McMahan said. “They can tell by their polling that we are ahead, and they want to cut back on our lead.”

Jackley said the statements in his mailer were merely quoting McMahan’s voting record during her term in the state legislature from 1994-96.

“We’re strictly talking about Lois McMahan’s voting record,” Jackley said. “She is trying to divert attention from her voting record and doesn’t want to be held accountable. It’s possible for politicians to say, ‘I supported that issue,’ and then in reality not fund it, or do other things that do not support it.”

When asked if McMahan called and confronted him about the alleged false statements in 2000, Jackley said he could not recall.

“I don’t remember her talking to me about that issue,” Jackley said. “I certainly would remember that.”

Doug Ellis, a spokesman for the PDC, said his office received the complaint and will begin an investigation into its merits.

“The first step is to send the complaint to the person accused of the action and ask them, ‘Is this true? What do have to you say about this?’ ” Ellis said.

“If the response is not sufficient, our staff will interview people and find out where the facts came from.”

Ellis said once the investigation concludes, the PDC can either dismiss the complaint, or if warranted, take one of several actions, including sending a warning letter, imposing a fine, or even refering the case to the attorney general’s office.

To warrant punitive actions, however, Ellis said, there has to be more than just false statements — there must be malice behind them. Malice, Ellis said, is defined as knowledge of or reckless disregard of the truth, and there must be clear and convincing evidence of it.

“It is a very high standard; it can’t just be a misunderstanding,” Ellis said.

Jackley said he does not expect McMahan’s complaint to go far.

“I would say no,” Jackley said. “I think it will all be dismissed.”

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