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Update: Panel finds unfair campaign practices in Ballston race

Less than 24 hours after hearing complaints from Ballston Town Council candidate Patti Southworth against her opponent Mary Beth Hynes, a Fair Campaign Practices (FCP) panel said Hynes breached guidelines of fair campaign practice in some of her campaign literature.

At issue were two recent flyers mailed to town residents by Hynes, the Republican incumbent on the town board, comparing the experience and public appearances of the two candidates. Southworth, who is running on the Democratic-Independent- Working party line, lodged complaints about the specific wording of the mailings, particularly printed statements that Southworth had no record of speaking out on town issues, and that she had broken a promise when she failed to attend a recent LWV Meet the Candidates Night.

In statements to the FCP panel Friday night, a Hynes representative said there had been "harsh language" from both candidates, but that no untruthful or unethical statements were included in the mailings.

The panel, members of the League of Women Voters that established the FCP, upheld two points in Southworth's complaint.

"Had Ms. Hynes' flier merely purported to compare the records of the two candidates, FCP would agree that it fell within the realm of rough and tumble political debate without crossing the line into unfair campaign practice," said the statement released by FCP late Saturday. "However.. the flier erroneously presented that Ms. Southworth has no stand on the issues discussed, in violation of FCP principle 4, which prohibits the use of campaign material that misrepresents, distorts, or otherwise falsifies a fact or facts regarding the opponent."

The panel also found a statement in the Hynes' mailing that Southworth "broke her promise to listen to Ballston voters when she skipped the League of Women Voters debate," to be in violation of FCP standards.

On the remainder of Southworth's 11-point complaint, the panel ruled the mailings did engage in fair campaign standards.

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