'Mailer links Lynch, offenders'

Last modified: 10/23/2010 12:00:00 AM
A Cornerstone Action mailer sent to voters this week tries to link Gov. John Lynch to sex offenders granted an early exit from prison under legislation reforming the state's parole system.

"Introducing Team Lynch," the flier reads, above a smiling photo of Lynch flanked by mug shots of four men who were granted parole a month ago, before they had reached their maximum prison sentences.

The "pretty substantial" statewide mailer went out this week, "mostly targeting independent households," said Kevin Smith, the director of Manchester-based Cornerstone Action.

The conservative group has paid for other advertisements attacking Lynch, a Democrat who faces Republican challenger John Stephen in the Nov. 2 election.

Lynch's campaign yesterday condemned the mailer as dishonest.

"John Stephen's allies and his friends at Cornerstone continue to play politics with public safety," said campaign manager Pamela Walsh. "They know what they're saying is false. Gov. Lynch has the support of the vast majority of law enforcement," including the endorsement of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, "because public safety is his highest priority."

Smith defended the mailer.

"The fact of the matter is that . . . if (Lynch) didn't sign S.B. 500 into law, those folks wouldn't have been released nine months early," he said.

The law, known by its bill number as S.B. 500, was passed by the Legislature earlier this year with bipartisan support and was signed into law by Lynch. Among other things, it requires that inmates be paroled nine months before reaching their maximum prison sentences and be intensively supervised.

Lynch and other backers of the law say it aims to reduce recidivism. Stephen and other opponents say it releases sexual and violent offenders early. It has become a contentious issue in the gubernatorial campaign.

The Cornerstone mailer includes representations of news articles about the law and photos of four men, with "released" printed beneath their faces.

Anthony Blakney, 27; Michael Navarro, 26; Robin Woodburn Jr., 34; and Theodore Roosevelt, 37, are the men shown in the flier, and were granted parole Sept. 23. All have been described as sex offenders, but the details of the men's criminal histories could not be confirmed last night. None of the four men appeared in searches on the national or state online sex-offender registries, and all were listed on the Department of Corrections website as residents of prison facilities.

Greg Moore, a spokesman for Stephen's campaign, initially said he hadn't seen the mailer. After he was sent images, originally provided by the Lynch campaign, of the flier, he wrote in an e-mail that "the issues surrounding SB 500 are very emotional, and it shouldn't be a surprise they evoke a very strong response."

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com.)




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