Partisanship Claimed In OC Board Races

Apr 15, 2014

One of the two political flyers in question
Credit Joel Knutson

Interests possibly from outside the area tried to influence the Oneida county board elections and a town of Crescent resident doesn't like it.

Days before the vote, a mass-produced mailing targeted four races. While the misspelled authorization line on the political ads named the local candidates, Joel Knutson told the Oneida county board he felt something wasn't right. The mailers brought up two issues, taking out dams and the sale of the WPS building, as focal points. Knutson says both issues were intended to scare people and were inaccurate. He says the feds and state control dam removals, not county boards, and the WPS building had already been sold by the time of the mailings....

"....they may be of dubious legality. We will know more after the campaign disclosures are filed. But the call to the county board listed on one of the flyers does not get candidates off the hook for express advocacy rules in coordinated efforts..."

Incumbent supervisors Bob Martini, Bob Mott and Candy Sorenson and newcomer Alan Van Raalte were targeted by the campaign. Mott won reelection and Van Raalte won a seat, while Martini and Sorenson lost. One flyer targeted Martini concerning the dams. Knutson said there was little if anything in Martini's time on the board concerning dams.

Joel Knutson
Credit WXPR

Knutson said he was most concerned about the inaccuracies of the flyers and the coordinated effort made to appear like local candidate's actions. He says the candidates targeted were not the ones involved in the WPS building sale...

"....and that is what makes this a simple, cheap, partisan hack job...."

County supervisors, along with municipal officials and other positions are non-partisan by state statute. Knutson is also a Crescent town board member. Iron county board races were influenced by mass mailings from the conservative group Americans For Prosperity.