Two Compete for Democratic Nomination for Auditor

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

Democratic candidate for state auditor, Todd Brand of Bailey, ran a TV commercial that appears to accuse his opponent, Mike Sumrall of leaving phone messages with African-American voters claiming to be black and a member of the NAACP. Sumrall denied leaving the messages.

"I had friends calling friends and asking them to call their friends," said Sumrall. "That did happen, but there was no mention of race in it."

"We started hearing about this several days after the primary, about a week, the rumors started surfacing," said Brand.

A member of Brand's family received the message from an alleged Sumrall supporter just before the August 7 primary.

Brand spent the next 10 days collecting signed affidavits from voters saying they did receive a message from someone saying they were supporting Sumrall.

"We're going to turn them over to the Attorney General's Office and I'm going to let Attorney General Hood handle it from there," said Brand. "He can determine if any campaign laws were broken.

So far neither Sumrall nor Brand has heard the phone message, and both deny they had anything to do with it. Brand says the commercial was his way of letting everyone know what was going on, not to accuse Sumrall. But Sumrall has even found fliers with the same negative message as Brand's commercial.

"This is just a tactic to muddy the water," said Sumrall.

"It never accused Mike Sumrall, but it did beg the question who is responsible for these ads and that's the burning question to me is, who's responsible," Brand said.

Now the question is, who do the voters believe should win?

Attorney General Jim Hood would neither confirm nor deny he is investigating this. But he did say if anyone has information of possible wrongdoing to call his office 1-800-281-4418.

The winner of the Democratic runoff will face Republican Stacy Pickering in November.

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