Murder Victim's Attorney: Begich Text Not Enough

Mark Begich
Mark Begich / AP
September 3, 2014

Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich’s campaign made only a bare minimum attempt to reach out to a murder victim's family before airing an exploitive attack ad.

Begich accused former Republican Attorney General Dan Sullivan of allowing a sex offender who later murdered two people to walk free in a recent campaign commercial, according to MSNBC. Bryon Collins, an attorney representing the family, said that Begich’s did not make any real attempt to seek the family’s permission before debuting the attack ad.

According to a spokesman for Begich’s campaign, his staff had reached out to family members of the victim as well as members of their Cambodian community in Anchorage before running the ad and received no indication anyone objected to its content. Nonetheless, they are honoring Collins’ request and trying to determine how the miscommunication happened.

Collins had previously told the Washington Examiner that his clients did not respond to messages from the campaign and never gave permission to run the ad. He repeated the claim in a statement on Tuesday night and suggested other individuals purporting to speak for the family may be creating confusion.

A Begich spokesman initially defended the ad, while the Democratic incumbent remained silent on the issue. The campaign pulled the ad down after the family complained.

Collins said that the campaign made only a bare minimum effort to reach out to the family, sending a single text message, which the family did not respond to.

"I have a copy of the only text message regarding contact with my client on behalf [of the] Begich campaign asking if Begich campaign could contact my clients," Collins said. "No one from the campaign called my clients or discussed the ads with them prior to running them.  It appears someone other than my office is attempting to speak for the family without authorization.  The family requests that this stop immediately."

The Washington Free Beacon published portions of Collins’ cease and desist letter to the Begich campaign on Tuesday.

"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," the attorney, Bryon Collins, wrote.

Begich is facing a tough re-election campaign. An August poll revealed that Sullivan has overcome an early deficit in the race and now leads by 2 points.