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DFL accuses GOP of lying about Eken

OK. One thing we can all agree on is that Kent Eken didn't vote to raise the so-called Granny Tax.

Eken, a DFLer from Twin Valley who has served in the Minnesota House for five terms, is running against Republican Phil Hansen of Detroit Lakes for the Minnesota Senate District 4 seat.

Longtime DFL Sen. Keith Langseth of Glyndon hung up his spurs this year, leaving an open seat on the Nov. 6 ballot.

On Friday the Minnesota DFL filed a complaint against the Republican Party of Minnesota regarding direct mail and radio advertisements directed against Eken (by the Republican Party, not by Hansen).

For over a month, the DFL says, Eken has been the target of misleading attacks and negative campaign tactics.

"Eken repeatedly called out his opponents' lies, yet Republicans continued to cite a false claim that Eken voted to raise taxes on seniors residing in assisted living facilities," according to the DFL news release.

A fact check of Rep. Eken's voting record reveals this claim is false; in fact, Eken voted against the so-called Granny Tax.

It was an honest mistake, and the Republican Party issued a correction as soon as it found out, says Heather Rubash, communications director for the Republican Party of Minnesota.

"I believe what happened was Eken said in a debate that information in our mailer was incorrect," she said. "We saw the debate and went back and looked at it and realized that the information was wrong. We sent out a piece right away saying, 'Oops, we goofed -- we sent the corrected piece to the same households we sent the original piece.'"

Rubash said the corrective piece was mailed out before the DFL filed its complaint and sent out the news release.

The piece reads: "We goofed: Kent Eken did not vote to raise the fee seniors pay for nursing home care. Instead, Eken voted to raise the cost we pay for hospital care and health insurance."

Ken Martin, chair of the Minnesota DFL Party, has filed a complaint alleging the attacks on Eken violated the state's Fair Campaign Practices and Campaign Finance acts. Along with the legal brief, he submitted copies of the direct mail pieces targeting Eken.

He asked that the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings find that the Republican Party violated state statutes and that the state "assess appropriate penalties."

According to the DFL news release: In recent days the Republican Party of Minnesota has publicly admitted to a "mistake," saying, "Kent Eken did not vote to raise the fee seniors pay for nursing home care."

"It is unclear how widely the retraction has been distributed," Martin added in the news release. "In any case, this apology does not address the fact that these ads violated the law."

"The Republicans may be backtracking and trying to cover up their lies about Kent Eken's record, but that doesn't unbreak the law," he said. "Their ads were blatantly false, and we filed a complaint today because these dishonest tactics cannot be allowed to go unchecked."

The attacks against Kent Eken amount to a smear campaign, he added. "It's not even a distortion of the truth -- it's an outright lie."

Eken and Hansen are running for State Senate in the newly-formed Senate District 4, which includes the cities of Moorhead and Detroit Lakes as well as Becker, Clay and Norman counties.

Hansen said this on his website:

"Recently, a political flyer was mailed to selected Minnesota Senate District 4 voters by the Republican Party, attacking my opponent. It was sent without my knowledge and I do not agree with the tactic of this piece. I do not condone a strategy of attacking my opponent in this way.

"My campaign has been built on a positive message of job creation, fiscal accountability, and restoring statesmanship to our Senate. In the future, I would suggest the party take the money from these types of mailings and donate to their favorite charity. It would be money better spent."

Republicans say DFLers are running false ads too -- in this case claiming U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack doesn't live in the Eighth Congressional District, which he represents.

Rubash said Cravaack lives in North Branch, which is in the Eighth District, and the state DFL should follow the Republican lead in the Eken case, admit the Cravaack ads are wrong, and set the record straight.