Gloves come off in Dem. a.g. race (UPDATED) | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Gloves come off in Dem. a.g. race (UPDATED)

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2006 at 5:03 PM

Democratic attorney general candidate Robert Herzfeld, currently the Saline County prosecuting attorney, today unveiled his comprehensive drug proposal that includes the creation of an anti-drug planning council, additional measures to combat methamphetamine dealers and users, expanding drug courts and educating citizens about the dangers of crack cocaine and prescription drug abuse.

"Other candidates have put forward limited plans that only deal with one portion of the drug problem in this state," Herzfeld said in a release. "As a Prosecutor, I have a proven record of success in fighting the war on drugs."

One of his primary opponents, state Rep. Dustin McDaniel, hit back with his own press release:

“It appears that Robert is at it again. He's released yet another 'plan' that is short on substance and specifics, but long on rhetoric and promises. He has offered nothing in this plan that will solve the current drug problems our state faces. Rather, he's only pointed out the obvious, that we have a drug problem in Arkansas, "said Melissa Moody, campaign manager for McDaniel. ...

"More importantly, Mr. Herzfeld has a credibility problem when it comes to fighting drugs,” McDaniel said.  “As prosecutor, he has disposed of thousands of cases through plea bargains, while still allowing his backload of old cases to increase by more than 20%.  At the same time, he was investigated by Legislative Audit for taking $5,000 from his drug funds to pay for a poll that has been the basis of his entire political campaign.  The state said what he did was technically legal, but every prosecutor I have spoken with agrees that it was unethical and wrong.  He should return that money to the people of Saline County.

“Furthermore, he has credibility issues with law enforcement,” McDaniel said.  “In 2004, he was criticized by his own Drug task Force for not charging Charles Raymond Aguilar with manufacturing meth, even though he was caught in the act of cooking.  Unfortunately, when Mr. Aguilar murdered a woman a few months later, Robert actually tried to blame the police," McDaniel said.   McDaniel is a former Jonesboro Police Officer who was recently endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

“Robert has shown his propensity to skirt by on the letter of the law, regardless of the spirit for which it was intended.  These are not the traits Arkansans deserve in their next attorney general,” McDaniel said.

Now might be a good time to mention that the primary is exactly one month and ten days from today.

UPDATE: Herzfeld called to respond to McDaniel's release. Read it after the jump.

Herzfeld responded, "I am extremely proud of my record as a prosecutor and the work I've done in the courtroom winning major convictions and winning the war on meth, and I'm as proud of the work I've done outside the courtroom pushing positive public policy.

"Everything [McDaniel] said was shaded and inaccurate ... especially saying that I did anything unethical in conducting a criminal justice survey. The purpose was to explore what direction we should go and how to get there. The result of that was a resounding success."

Herzfeld said that every question in the survey was related to legislation that was pushed during the legislative session. He called it "very public and above board" and said an auditor found it was appropriate.

He said McDaniel's statement amounted to "putting up a smokescreen to hide his own inadequacies in this race," adding that McDaniel voted in the 2005 session to reduce the time meth manufacturers serve in prison (SB 387). "There is a clear distinction between an experienced prosecutor and a legislator out of touch with the people he is supposed to be representing," Herzfeld said.


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