With the Aug. 3 primary less than a week away, criticism has been flying between Democrats Chuck Graham and Tim Harlan, who are running for the 19th District state Senate seat.
The attacks intensified Tuesday as Graham’s campaign manager, Mike McGennis, filed a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission saying Harlan did not disclose the source of $13,595 in 2002. The commission requires all contributions to be itemized, with the contributor’s name, address and occupation listed. Harlan’s Oct. 14, 2002, report lists his expenditures, but not his contributions.
Harlan said he has always listed his contributors and is sure the report was filed. He said he was never notified of a problem and calls the information a “desperate publicity stunt.”
“This is a last-minute attempt by Graham to distract voters from the real issues and from his record,” Harlan said in a news release, adding the paperwork has been re-filed.
Negative radio ads have also been filling the airwaves for the past week. Harlan has attacked Graham for his allocation of state funds and acceptance of gifts from lobbyists, while Graham has criticized Harlan’s voting record. Harlan was the 23rd District state representative from 1994 to 2002, and Graham is the current state representative for the 24th District.
One of the focal points of Harlan’s ads has been Graham’s sponsorship of the 2001 bill that allocated $35 million of state funds for the construction of the Paige Sports Arena. Harlan opposed the bill on the floor and contends it was a misuse of funds.
Referring to Bill and Nancy Laurie, private donors who gave $25 million for the basketball arena’s construction, Harlan’s ad says, “When a billionaire wanted a new basketball arena at Mizzou, Chuck Graham answered the call. At a time of massive cuts in higher education, rising tuition and the elimination of entire majors, Chuck Graham was the chief sponsor of the bill that spent $35 million of taxpayer money on the Paige basketball arena.”
Graham responded by saying the construction impact to the local economy so far has been about $176 million, and hundreds of local residents have been employed with the project.
Harlan has also questioned Graham about the gifts he has received from lobbyists, citing a study by the Kansas City Star listing Graham as the top recipient of gifts in terms of number and third in terms of dollar amount between January 2001 and July 2003. In a July 14 forum, Graham defended himself by saying, “You’re not going to find me afraid to vote against people who have contributed to me.”
In a response ad, Graham criticizes Harlan as “lying about his own record.” The ad calls Harlan’s voting record into question, saying he missed more than 600 votes during his last term as a representative. “It seems like Tim Harlan wants our vote,” says a woman in the ad; “He just won’t give us his.”
Graham contends it is difficult for citizens to see where a candidate stands on issues when they miss votes.
Harlan said it’s important to distinguish between making a vote and passing legislation. He said he was often in the governor’s office or conferring with senators on his legislation, and that about half the bills the legislature passes every year are consent bills, meaning they are uncontroversial.
“The ultimate importance is what kind of legislation you’ve been able to pass,” Harlan said. “I think I’ve done well on that test.”
The 19th District consists of Boone and Randolph counties. The winner of the primary will face Republican Mike Ditmore in the November election.