McGinn, Murray spar over campaign ad on domestic violence

SEATTLE -- A new attack ad in the Seattle mayor's race puts domestic violence victims in the middle of a nasty election fight.

Essentially, the commercial blames Mayor Mike McGinn for a spike in domestic violence and calls-on voters to back candidate Ed Murray. McGinn says the ad is misleading, and his supporters want it off the air.

"To McGinn, domestic violence just wasn't a priority," the ad states, "...Mayor Mike McGinn eliminated the city's office of domestic violence. Now domestic violence assaults are up 60 percent."

Thursday, McGinn threw a counter punch, backed by domestic violence experts.

"We don't know if the increase is due to more violence against women or more reporting," said Dr. Sutapa Basu, a domestic violence policy expert.

The ad points out the mayor eliminated Terri Kimball's position overseeing domestic violence issues and the city went on to see a spike in reported incidents. A political action committee paid for the commercial and Murray says he has no connection to it, but supports the message.

"I think when you de-emphasize an office by eliminating it, you also end up de-emphasizing the issue," Murray said.

McGinn says the ad's claim is highly misleading, because while he did eliminate a department head, he also increased overall spending for domestic violence services.

"Senator Murray seems to have an honesty problem," McGinn said.

McGinn says the spike in incidents is due to a broader definition of what is domestic violence, and a greater awareness of the issue.

"It's actually good that more cases are being reported because that means we can take action to deal with it," McGinn said. "It's a hidden crime."

Murray says he's sat down with police commanders who tell him the upward trend goes beyond reporting. Murray also has no plans to interfere with a commercial he didn't produce.

"We really shouldn't make this a political campaign issue," said domestic violence expert Someireh Amirfaiz. "This is truly about the lives of women."