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McKee and Perini spar over ads in House race

October 28, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Maryland House of Delegates candidate Peter E. Perini Sr. has gone on the offensive with radio ads attacking the voting record of incumbent Robert A. McKee.

In response, McKee has accused Perini of negative campaigning in the race for District 2A.

Perini's ads singled out three of McKee's votes.

According to the ads, McKee voted against posting the names of sex offenders on the Internet, against increased penalties for abuse and neglect of older adults and against preventing insurance companies from using your credit information to set insurance rates.

In an interview, McKee defended his votes on all three bills.

On the sex offender bill, McKee said he was concerned that the information might be used to harm innocent people. State officials had told him they don't have the resources to keep the sex offender list current.

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As executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Washington County, McKee said he is aware of the need to strengthen laws to protect children from abuse.

McKee voted against making abuse and neglect of the elderly a felony because he said it could be used to prosecute an innocent person whose elderly relative accidentally gets hurt.

On the third bill, McKee said the ad is just plain wrong.

Records show that McKee voted with the majority to block insurance companies from using credit information when the bill passed the House of Delegates 125-6 earlier this year.

But Perini said his ad was referring to an earlier version of the bill, which McKee voted against.

"I guess it's pretty convenient to be able to defend your record when you vote both ways," Perini said.

McKee said the ads are misleading.

"But the Perinis don't care what the truth is," McKee said. "It's easy to pick out three and stretch the truth."

McKee did some research and found that he has cast at least 6,893 votes during his eight-year term in the Legislature. He noted that on two of the bills in question he voted the same way as House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, who is a Perini supporter.

McKee had already planned a radio spot promoting his re-election campaign, but after he heard Perini's ads, he developed a second ad to counter the attack.

Without naming Perini, McKee defends himself in the ad by saying, "I'll tell you this, if I voted no there was a darn good reason why. Don't be fooled by his negative campaign. I've fought hard for you. I've fought hard for Washington County values in Annapolis."

Perini said the ads, which are on his Web site at www.committeeforpeterperini.com, are not negative campaigning because they don't attack McKee personally.

"That's not negative. That's contrasting myself with my opponent and quite frankly just pointing out his voting record," Perini said.

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