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Merkley vs. Smith: The Mud Thickens

Republican Sen. Gordon Smith is out with another ad hitting Jeff Merkley for redecorating legislative offices - prompting a counterattack from Merkley accusing the Smith



Republican Sen. Gordon Smith is out with another ad hitting Jeff Merkley for redecorating legislative offices - prompting a counterattack from Merkley accusing the Smith campaign of "hypocrisy" and a counter-counterattack from Smith's side accusing the Merkleyites of "flat-out lying."

"Jeff Merkley attacked the former [Republican] House speaker for having spent thousands redecorating," the ad begins. "Merkley said it wastes our tax dollars. But when Merkley became speaker - you guessed it. He spent millions. Flat-screen TVs. $4,000 desks. $6,700 for matching hutch, credenza and wardrobe. Credenza? Wardrobe?

"Say one thing, do another. That's hypocrisy. That's Jeff Merkley."

In the Merkley counterattack, spokesman Matt Canter pointed out on that Kerry Tymchuk, Smith's state director, was a member of a public commission that approved renovations for the Capitol and gave it his okay.

"According to minutes of a public commission meeting that occurred on Nov. 13, 2006, Tymchuck asked for a 15-minute recess to review the remodel proposal," reports. "When he came back from that recess, the minutes say, 'Tymchuk supports the report as a thoughtful, innovative document.'"

"Tymchuk is a surrogate and a representative for Gordon Smith when he's not in Oregon, which is often," Canter said. "The real hypocrite here is Gordon Smith."

The counter-counterattack came almost immediately from Smith spokesperson Lindsay Gilbride, who said the Merkley campaign was "flat-out lying" because Tymchuk never approved spending for office furniture. The report he signed off on recommended only "a bare-bones improvement, not lavish furnishings," she said.

Merkley "cannot defend his leadership on this issue so he is flat out lying," Gilbride said. "Jeff Merkley is responsible for two million dollars in furniture."

In fact, of course, the refurnishing project - including the new furniture - was approved not by Merkley alone but by a bipartisan legislative committee.

How far down in the gutter will this campaign go before it mercifully ends on election day? The Eye shrinks from contemplating it. But at least neither candidate has accused the other of having a love child. Yet.

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