Begich Campaigns Removes Controversial ‘Crime Scene’ Ad

The campaign of Sen. Mark Begich has taken down a controversial TV ad entitled “crime scene” that began airing Friday. The ad featured a retired Anchorage police officer who says Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan let sex offenders off with light sentences.

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“One of them got out of prison, and is now charged with breaking into that apartment, murdering a senior couple and sexually assaulting their 2-year-old granddaughter.”

It essentially blames Sullivan for the 2013 crime, because he was attorney general when the suspect cut a plea deal for a prior crime that resulted in a short sentence. Sullivan immediately responded with a rebuttal ad, calling the Begich ad shameful and unfounded.

“The failure that led to Active’s release occurred before I even became Attorney General,” Sullivan said.

The double murder case hasn’t yet gone to trial, but the Department of Law previously acknowledged the suspect would probably still be in prison if it were not for a mistake when he was sentenced for a prior crime. The department found a state prosecutor in 2010 relied on an inaccurate report of the suspect’s criminal history, resulting in a deal and a four-year sentence. Because the suspect had a prior felony, the sentence, by state law, should have been at least double that.

Sullivan’s campaign says he bears no responsibility for the erroneous report.

The Begich campaign counters by circulating an image of the 2010 plea deal that resulted in the short sentence. Sullivan was AG then, and his name is on the bottom of the document.

Both campaigns took down their ads after a request by the victims’ family.

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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska’s congressional delegation, federal agency decisions that shape life in the 49th state, money in politics and elections. She has deep roots in Alaska and this is her third stint in Washington, a city she has grown to love.

She was born in Anchorage and is a West High graduate. She studied political science at the University of Washington and has an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia. During graduate school, she moved to Washington to intern as a D.C. correspondent. But for her first real journalism job, she moved back to Alaska to work at the Homer News. She was there for three years before taking a job at the Anchorage Daily News. Over the course of nine years in Anchorage, she covered City Hall, courts, state politics, and Native and rural affairs.

Then, in April 2001, she moved back to Washington to work in McClatchy Newspaper’s D.C. bureau as a correspondent for the Anchorage paper. She stayed in the position for five years.

She took a year off for a journalism fellowship at the University of Colorado in Boulder, then freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio.

When a vacancy occurred in APRN’s one-person Washington bureau, she jumped at the opportunity. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013.

lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz