Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan is demanding that Democratic incumbent Mark Begich remove a hard-hitting TV ad that Sullivan calls "shameful and deceitful."
But the Begich campaign isn't budging. It says Sullivan is to blame for a light sentence given to a sex offender who, shortly after he left prison, was charged with killing a couple and sexually assaulting their toddler granddaughter and an elderly woman.
In the TV ad, retired Anchorage police Sgt. Bob Glen points to the Anchorage apartment where Jerry Active allegedly committed the attack after he broke into the couple's home in May 2013.
The ad says it was paid for by Alaskans for Begich and was approved by Begich. It began running Friday and will air statewide for an indefinite time, said Begich spokesperson Max Croes.
After seeing the ad, Sullivan quickly produced his own TV ad denouncing Begich's claims, which include that Sullivan let a lot of sex offenders get off with light sentences. The Sullivan campaign also issued a timeline to the media. The timeline showed the mistake that led to Active's early release happened months before Sullivan became attorney general in June 2009.
"I think it's shameful Mark Begich will put up distortions and lies on the air to advance his political career," Sullivan said in a phone interview, adding that as attorney general he was "110 percent" focused on attacking domestic violence and sexual assault.
"The guy will do anything to get re-elected, and look, the real pain here is not just the lies but he's causing more pain for a family that has already gone through lot of pain," Sullivan said. "At what point does it become acceptable in Alaska politics to lie and use this kind of heinous crime to advance your political career?"
But Begich's campaign also released a timeline to media. While a mistake had been made before Sullivan became attorney general -- a 2007 felony conviction was omitted from Active's record -- the plea agreement with Jerry Active occurred when Sullivan was attorney general. The Begich campaign released a photo Friday to media showing Sullivan's name on the March 3, 2010 plea agreement.
The prosecutor working under Dan Sullivan at the time should have caught the error, said Croes. If that prosecutor had done so, Active would still have been behind bars when the Mountain View crimes occurred, he said. Active is in jail awaiting trial.
Sullivan has said he's responsible for everything that happened under his agency when he was attorney general, the Begich timeline pointed out. He's happy to take credit for positive things but not negative ones like this, Croes said.
"Dan Sullivan continues to try and mislead Alaskans about his short-lived tenure as Alaska's attorney general," Croes said. "In reality, Sullivan spent his time as attorney general preparing to run for the U.S. Senate by pursuing politically motivated lawsuits instead of working to promote the safety and well-being of Alaskans."
Trying to blame Sullivan for a plea agreement based on an error that occurred before Sullivan was attorney general is "desperately grasping at straws," said Mike Anderson, Sullivan's spokesman. "Neither Dan Sullivan nor his office were culpable in any way for the sentencing of Jerry Active, and it's disingenuous and shameful that the Begich campaign is trying to make this tragedy a political issue."
The timeline from the Sullivan campaign did not make note of the March 2010 plea agreement. Begich did not return a call to his cellphone seeking comment.