Brock television ads call Sarbanes soft on crime CAMPAIGN 1994 -- U.S. SENATE

October 13, 1994|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,Sun Staff Writer

Trying to capitalize on one of the hot issues of the fall campaign, Republican U.S. Senate challenger Bill Brock has gone on television with a commercial implying that incumbent Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes is soft on crime.

The advertisement states that Mr. Sarbanes voted to strike death penalty provisions from the recent crime bill and opposed mandatory sentences for crimes involving a gun and for selling drugs to children.

"Now he tells us he's tough on crime," the narrator says. "The more you hear about Senator Sarbanes, the more he sounds like part of the problem."

The critical 15-second ad is then followed by a positive spot showing Mr. Brock speaking to Baltimore County sheriff's deputies and appearing to tick off his ideas for fighting crime. They include mandatory sentences for selling drugs to children, no parole for child molesters and mandatory sentences for violent criminals.

"Bill Brock," the narrator says, "part of the solution."

According to Congressional Quarterly, Mr. Sarbanes did vote against the death penalty provisions and the mandatory sentences. But Mr. Sarbanes' campaign manager, Michael Davis, said that the ad takes one of the votes out of context and presented another in a misleading way.

Mr. Davis said the senator opposed mandatory sentences for crimes involving a gun because it would "federalize" all such offenses -- most of which come under state jurisdiction -- and clog the federal courts. He also pointed out that legislators sometimes propose such tough-sounding measures that are administratively cumbersome so that they can later embarrass their opponents at election time.

The senator opposed mandatory sentences for selling drugs to minors in August on procedural grounds, Mr. Davis said.

The provision came in an amendment to an unrelated education bill after a joint House and Senate committee had agreed to drop it from the crime bill.

"They're really misleading the voters," Mr. Davis said of the Brock campaign.

Mr. Davis said that the senator supports the death penalty in more heinous crimes, including murder during a hostage taking and during a bank robbery.

Mr. Davis also noted that Senator Sarbanes supported the recent crime bill, which has provided funding for 75 more police officers in Maryland. Mr. Brock opposed the bill, saying its penalties were not tough enough.

Mr. Brock's advertisements began running early this week on Baltimore and Washington television stations and are expected to run until sometime next week.

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