Brand Will Give Affidavits Verifying Phone Message to AG's Office - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson 8/28/07

Brand Will Give Affidavits Verifying Phone Message to AG's Office

by Jon Kalahar
jkalahar@wlbt.net

It's the only statewide race up for grabs in today's runoff election. And a controversial television commercial has added a little spice to the democratic nomination for state auditor. Now the Attorney General could decide if some shady politics is involved.

We first showed you this commercial Monday. Candidate for state auditor Todd Brand ran the commercial. It seems to accuse his opponent, Mike Sumrall of leaving phone messages with African American voters claiming to be black and a member of the NAACP. Sumrall denied leaving the messages.

"I had friends calling friends and asking them to call their friends, that did happen, but there was no mention of race in it," said Sumrall.

"We started hearing about this several days after the primary, about a week, the rumors started surfacing," said Brand.

A member of Brand's family received the message from an alleged Sumrall supporter just before the August seventh primary. Brand spent the next 10 days collecting these...signed affidavits from voters saying they did receive a message from someone saying they were supporting Sumrall.

"We're going to leave turn them over to the Attorney General's Office and I'm going to let Attorney General Hood handle it from there. He can determine if any campaign laws were broken," said Brand.

So far neither Sumrall or Brand has heard the phone message, and both deny they had anything to do with it. Brand says the commercial was his way of letting everyone know what was going on, not to accuse Sumrall. But Sumrall has even found fliers with the same negative message as Brand's commercial.

"This is just a tactic to muddy the water," said Sumrall.

"It never accused Mike Sumrall, but it did beg the question who is responsible for these ads and that's the burning question to me is who's responsible," said Brand.

Now the question is, who do the voters believe should win.

 Attorney General Jim Hood will neither confirm nor deny he is investigating. But he does say, if anyone has any information of possible wrong doing in this race, they are encouraged to call his office at 1-800-281-4418. The winner of tonight's run off will face republican Stacy Pickering who was unopposed in the primary.

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