No one is claiming responsibility for phone calls attacking a Republican candidate’s family, but the finger-pointing is flying. According to the Joe Don McGaugh campaign, Democrat Will Talbert is likely to blame for the calls, which accuses McGaugh’s in-laws of being behind on their property taxes and owning a failing business. McGaugh’s wife, Kassie, said the allegations are putting her family’s reputation in jeopardy and wants the calls to end. “I personally called Mr. Talbert on the night that I first found out about it and I asked him to stop these calls. He said he had nothing to do with it, but [I believe] one of his supporters had something to do with it. I asked him to make sure it stopped, but I still feel they are being made on behalf of his campaign and they need to stop,” Kassie McGaugh said.
Although KMZU News has not heard the alleged “push-poll,” residents who received the phone call said that the message began with a question about their candidate preferences, then veered quickly to questions that make negative statements about the McGaugh and Long family. Click to hear KMZU’s Chelsea Wade talk with Kassie McGaugh:
Will Talbert strongly denies any involvement with the phone campaign and he said it is unfortunate he has had to defend something he is not guilty of doing. “We had absolutely nothing to do with it. I have told my opponent’s family that we had nothing to do with it. I think it is a horrible thing. It saddens my family and I and it upsets some people in my campaign,” Talbert stated. Click to hear KMZU’s Chelsea Wade talk with Talbert:
Talbert maintains his innocence and said his ethics report will prove he had nothing to do with the phone calls. He encourages voters to review those documents here.
The source of the calls in District 39, which includes Ray, Carroll, and Chariton counties, may never be known. Talbert added that he will continue to run a positive campaign and has no desire to give in to the negativity.