After receiving an blistering letter from the lawyer of the family of a sexual assault victim, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is taking down a controversial TV ad criticizing his Republican opponent.
Begich's campaign released a TV spot last week that faulted Republican challenger Dan Sullivan, the state's former attorney general, for the early release of a sex offender who has been charged with the death of an elderly couple and the sexual assault of a two-year-old.
Sullivan immediately condemned the ad and demanded that Begich take it down, but it was the response of the family that led to the ad being pulled, according to KTVA in Alaska.
Bryon Collins, the attorney for the victims and their family, said that Begich's campaign did not receive permission from his clients before running the ad. He said they tried to contact his clients, who did not return their calls.
Collins' call for Begich’s campaign to stop running the ad was full of blistering criticism.
“You are tearing this family apart to the point that your ad was so shocking to them they now want to permanently leave the state as quickly as possible,” he wrote Monday in a letter to Begich.
“You[r] campaign is playing pure politics at the expense of my clients, and frankly has done only what is in the best interests of 'Mark Begich' rather than protecting the victims of the most serious crime in Alaska history,” he continued.
The attorney's letter also expressed concern that Begich's ads could hurt the case by spoiling the jury pool.
"[Y]our whole campaign fundamentally ignores the fact that our system of Justice is built on a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law," he wrote.
And the state’s current attorney general, Michael Geraghty, said the ad has “no basis in fact.”
“Drawing publicity to the case in a political ad, and highlighting the home where a family suffered such a horrific tragedy, is inappropriate and offensive,” he said in a statement released Aug. 30.