CHARLESTON -- The battle for a Kanawha Circuit Court judgeship continues to heat up.
The Dan Greear for Judge Campaign has assailed the Carrie Webster campaign for an attack ad, saying the commercial contains false accusations "in an attempt to manipulate voters."
Meanwhile, Webster's committee called for Greear's camp to ask West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse to take down its political ads that it says "defame and disparage" Webster.
On Tuesday, Greear's campaign called Webster's ad "something you would expect to see from a candidate who is behind," according to a press release.
"She is fully aware that her last ad is full of inaccurate allegations, but it's not surprising, given her history of making false claims when they serve her purpose," Greear said, referring to a civil lawsuit filed by Webster in which she erroneously called the defendant a registered sex offender.
Greear's campaign said the ad wrongly states that he voted against funding for law enforcement, citing an article about Greear declining to vote for the state budget when serving the in Legislature in 1995.
"It is a complete distortion to say my vote against the state budget in 1995 was a vote against funding for law enforcement," Greear said. "I voted against the budget because taxes were too high and state government spent too much."
Greear also says Webster's ad wrongly states that he has received campaign contributions from casinos.
"Throughout my history as a public servant, I have been a consistent voice of opposition to gambling, and I have never voted in favor of gaming -- ever," he said. "If gaming interests have ever donated one cent to my campaign, it was the worst investment they ever made for the gambling industry.
"Once again, Webster's campaign won't let the facts get in the way of a good political attack. ... These are desperate tactics by a corrupt career politician meant to shift attention from the real issues surrounding the campaign."
On Monday, Webster's campaign committee called on Greear to demand the WV CALA ads be pulled.
"The group is spending tens of thousands on radio spots and in a mail campaign in an attempt to defame and disparage Judge Carrie Webster," a Webster press release said.
Webster campaign spokeswoman Kim Lawrence called for full disclosure of who is paying for these ads.
"We think the public should know who is behind this secret, out-of-state money," Lawrence said. "Perennial politician Dan Greear has a history of hiding behind out-of-state money when he runs for office. When he ran for Attorney General in 2008, he hid behind hundreds of thousands of secret dollars from Wall Street."
Lawrence said Greear should demand, denounce and disclose who is behind these ads.
"Mr. Greear should demand these ads come down, denounce the use of secret, out-of-state money on his behalf, and insist that CALA disclose who is paying for these false attack ads," she said.
Webster's campaing says WV CALA recently launched mail and radio ads attacking Webster.
"They have poured tens of thousands of dollars into radio and mail in a blatant attempt to besmirch Judge Webster's stellar record as a public official," she said. "CALA has flooded the airwaves with information that is clearly false and misleading to the voters."
Webster's campaign said WV CALA is "working to buy a seat" on the Kanawha Circuit Court "reminiscent of the 2006 'For the Sake of the Kids' campaign where Don Blankenship funded a race to elect a state Supreme Court Justice."
"The public deserves to know whether it is Don Blankenship, Wall Street Corporations or others who are paying for these ads," Lawrence said, adding that Webster's contributor list has been fully disclosed and is on record at the Kanawha County Courthouse.
"The public has a right to know who is trying to buy a seat on the bench. Judge Webster's contributors are properly filed with the Kanawha County Clerk's office," she said. "Mr. Greear should demand the same."
Greear said he can't concern himself with outside groups entering the campaign.
"Instead of worrying about third-party groups over whom I have no control, Webster's campaign needs to worry about their own untrue allegations," he said Monday.
Richie Heath, executive director of WV CALA, said Monday that this is another example of Webster improperly trying to silence her critics, noting two different federal judges who struck down free speech restrictions pushed by Webster when she was chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Heath said WV CALA receives "contributions both large and small from West Virginia workers and job providers who are committed to stopping job-killing lawsuit abuse."
"Much like the ACLU and other non-profit issue organizations, WV CALA protects the privacy rights of its members and does not disclose the identity of its donors," Heath said. "WV CALA is properly exercising its First Amendment right to free speech on behalf of its West Virginia members that are concerned about the negative impacts that lawsuit abuse has on our state."
Heath said his group's ongoing issue advertisements highlight "the important issue of lawsuit abuse, the impact that frivolous lawsuit filings have on West Virginia workers and their families, and the much-needed legal reforms that can restore fairness to our courts and help attract jobs back to our state."
Heath also said WV CALA stands by its issue advertisements.
"As a personal injury lawyer and politician, Carrie Webster has opposed the meaningful legal reforms that would help create more jobs for our state," he said. "While in the House of Delegates, Webster voted against the important medical liability reforms that averted a health care crisis in our state, and she opposed other reform measures aimed at reducing frivolous lawsuit filings in our state."