NEWS- 'Total lie'? Late-breaking PAC ad draws ire
The defeat of incumbent Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Camblos was a victory not just for his challenger, Denise Lunsford, but also for the newly formed political action committee Crime Victims United of Virginia, a group that formally endorsed Lunsford just 11 days before the election. The group's 60-second anti-Camblos TV ad ran repeatedly in the run-up to November 6 and may have swayed many voters. However, Camblos calls the ad "a total lie" for having allegedly omitted one important aspect of the story it told.
Complete with darkly lit subjects and the ominous music common in negative campaign ads, the spot begins with Edward Deane (whose name the ad misspells as "Dean"), a Greene County man telling viewers "my wife and both my granddaughters were killed in an accident on 29."
As a male narrator's voice intones, "Jim Camblos claims that nobody cares more about crime victims than he does," the camera cuts to former Albemarle County police officer Roger Mathias who attests to the contrary: "I followed Mr. Deane in reference to the fatality case with his family, when he was tending to crosses and flowers in the roadway. I was instructed to arrest him."
If it weren't enough that Deane was put, he claims "in a small cell with no bed, no commode, no nothing," another former Albemarle officer, Karl Mansoor, testifies, "Jim Camblos told me that he wanted me to 'aim low and lead [Deane].' It means point your weapon slightly ahead of a moving target."
How did Edward Deane go from being a grieving widower and grandfather to a "moving target" in a police officer's cross-hairs and locked away in a cell? The ad doesn't say, but at a press conference Thursday, November 8, Camblos offered a reason. In response to his decision not to prosecute the woman who ran into the car carrying Deane's wife and grandchildren, "[Deane] came into my office and threatened my wife and children. He tried to come to my residence. The statements are half truths," he said, adding, "They don't tell you it happened because he threatened my family."
Indeed, Deane was arrested for trespassing on April 11, 1999, at Glenmore, the gated community where Camblos lived at the time. (The arresting officer was neither Mathias nor Mansoor. Glenmore's security guard had been instructed to call police if he saw Deane try to enter, and another officer made the arrest.)
As a group, CVUV composed an official response to the Hook's request for an interview, in which they claim that Deane posed no threat.
"The Glenmore security guard stated that Mr. Deane indicated he had come to Glenmore for an open house," the statement says. "After a thorough search of his person and vehicle by officers at the scene, Mr. Deane was found to be completely unarmed."
Moreover, the PAC declares that although they admit Deane was guilty of "making rude statements to Mr. Camblos, calling him names, and accusing him of being 'paid off,'" the surveillance and the arrest were unjustified.
"We do not believe it's acceptable to arrest a person because someone thinks the same person might break the law in the future," PAC representatives say.
Further, the group says they found no evidence that Camblos ever filed a report of Deane's alleged threat.
"We posted an open letter to Mr. Camblos on our website," the PAC's reps declare, "We asked Mr. Camblos for two things: If Edward Deane had threatened to kill Mr. Camblos' family, why didn't he ever charge Deane pertaining to that allegation? If he had any evidence that in fact Mr. Deane had threatened to kill his family we would like to see it and CVUV would provide a forum for him and post the evidence on our website. Mr. Camblos never responded to our request."
Had CVUV checked with Charlottesville police detective Blaine Cosgro, he says they would have discovered such a report actually does exist.
"On October 20, 1998, a report was filed outlining what Mr. Camblos says Mr. Deane told him," he says. "Eventually there were greeting cards he sent Mr. Camblos in that file."
Deane was never charged with anything, as Cosgro recalls Camblos wanting to treat Deane delicately.
"Based on the situation that preceded that and input from City Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman, his objective was to resolve the case without charging him, if at all possible," he says. "Contact was made with Mr. Deane's family and some corrective actions were recommended and they agreed to it, until the later incident at Glenmore."
Lest people consider the PAC members strictly anti-Camblos, Mansoor tells the Hook that his organization CVUV intends to hold Lunsford as accountable as they wanted to hold Camblos.
"I think any newly elected official should be given the opportunity to prove themselves," he says, "but we hope to continue our efforts and continue to monitor these issues of victims' rights in the criminal justice system."