Smear tactics send politics in Eagle County to new low
October 24, 2006
Eagle County politics hit a new low in the eyes of some observers Monday when an anonymous postcard unloading vicious rumors on a commissioner candidate started arriving at voters’ homes. The postcard accused Sara Fisher, the Democrat in the District 3 county commissioner race, of lifestyle indiscretions and contained unfounded allegations of theft while she was a public servant.”This sounds a little bit hokey, but all I can do is pray for them,” Fisher said. Whether in this life or the next, they will realize the error of their ways, she said.Voters in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County will vote in the race. Some valley residents have received the smear campaign literature.The postcard starts by trying to make a romantic link between Fisher and current Eagle County Commissioner Peter Runyon, a Democrat who has made enemies because of his strong anti-growth positions.”Sara Fisher and Peter Runyon Vacation in the Caribbean,” blares a headline in the postcard. “In the May of 2006 Peter Runyon chartered a sailboat for a sailing trip in the Caribbean. Ohhhh what a fun time!!!” the following copy said.The innuendo is absurd, both Runyon and Fisher said. Runyon said he took the trip with his wife and another couple. Fisher confirmed she wasn’t on the trip.Runyon said it makes him “sad” to have elements within Eagle County politics “that stoop to this level.””This thing was put out there anonymously, and that is the lowest of the low,” he said.Blatant smear campaignThe campaign gets worse on the back side of the postcard. It says: “While Clerk and Recorder for Eagle County, it has been reported, Sara Fisher shacked up with a black man that had past drug convictions and child support issues.”During this time money disappears from her office. There were no signs of forcible entry. What happened to the money?” the postcard asks.The third allegation asks if Fisher has a problem with alcohol.The postcard concludes by asking, “Do we want someone like this representing Eagle County? Think hard before you vote.”Fisher, 50, categorically denied the allegations. She has been married to her husband, Bill, for 16 years. They married before her appointment as Eagle County clerk and recorder in 1993. She won two elections for that office, in 1994 and 1998.She said the postcard’s claim that there were previous reports in the media about her alleged living situation is a poor attempt to give validity to something that is baseless.She confirmed that her office was burglarized twice in four days. To the best of her recollection that occurred in 1999. There was no sign of forced entry into the office, but the deadbolt was drilled out of a vault where cash and checks were stored overnight. The thief or thieves failed to recover anything on that trip, according to Fisher.The county’s facilities department decided to respond only by replacing the deadbolt after the first incident, according to Fisher. In a return trip four nights later, the thief or thieves broke into the vault again and stole about $2,000 in cash and checks from a deposit bag. The checks weren’t cashed, and the county recovered the money by contacting people who had written them for services, Fisher said.Regarding alcohol use, Fisher said she has addressed issues and has no problem.District attorney investigatingFisher said friends alerted her about the postcards Monday evening. She confirmed that some residents of Vail, Avon and Gypsum had received them. They arrived at some households in the Eagle County portion of the Roaring Fork Valley as well.Fisher said she reported the mailings to Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert on Tuesday morning. “I have some ideas [who did it], but I’m not going to share those with anyone but law enforcement,” Fisher said.She stressed that she doesn’t feel her two opponents in the commissioner race have anything to do with the postcard. Both her foes, Republican Tom Edwards and independent Roger Brown, denounced the tactics and said they had no connection to or knowledge of the postcards.The campaign between the candidates has been clean throughout the campaign, they all agreed: “I think it’s been good. We’re still all smiling at one another,” Brown said.He suspected the smear tactics will backfire and Fisher will receive some sympathy votes. “I hope it helps Sara, even though I want to beat her,” Brown said.Runyon said national political races are known to get ugly, but at least the people involved in those nasty campaigns identify themselves. It’s illegal to mail anonymous campaign literature.”The word ‘appalled’ applies,” said Runyon. “I am appalled we’ve sunk to this level.”Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com.