Audrey E. Scott, the Republican candidate for Prince George's county executive, unleashed television and radio ads yesterday attacking her Democratic opponent's record as chief county prosecutor.
Scott's ads accuse State's Attorney Jack B. Johnson of often failing to prosecute arrested rapists and drunken drivers on the most serious charges, instead accepting pleas to lesser crimes.
Johnson called the allegations untrue and mean-spirited. "I'm very disappointed in Audrey Scott," Johnson said. "We'll just keep moving on, talk about positive issues and meet her at the polls Election Day."
Scott replied: "I'm more disappointed in him. Not only disappointed, I'm disgusted with him."
Scott, who is completing her second term as the only Republican on the County Council, must overcome a 5-to-1 Democratic registration advantage favoring Johnson in the Nov. 5 election. Her ads make no mention of her party affiliation.
Her 30-second television spot asserts that Johnson "let off" 95 percent of those charged with rape in Prince George's County last year. "They're walking around out there," a narrator's voice says as a man is pictured from the waist down, his loud footsteps heard in the background.
Scott looked at 118 rape cases prosecuted during the 2002 fiscal year. Of those, she said, six defendants were convicted of all charges, while 112 were not convicted of all charges. Using a similar standard, her television ad asserts that Johnson's office "let off" 94 percent of accused drunken drivers in fiscal 2001, as the screen displays a car wreck.
Johnson said his opponent's ads take the numbers out of context, unfairly using convictions on all charges as a measure of success or failure. He invoked Winston Churchill's statement about statistics: "Lies, lies and damn lies."
Scott's 60-second radio ad says that a man prosecuted by Johnson's office for killing his girlfriend spent one day in jail. Johnson, in response, said the man was a police officer who was convicted; the sentencing judge should be blamed for any leniency, he said.
Johnson said his decision to try the officer led critics to say he had abused the grand jury system.
But Scott, in a news release announcing the media campaign, said Johnson had shown an "egregious disregard for the law and for the safety of the citizens."
Scott said her ads rise to Johnson's challenge to examine his record. "I do not lie," she said. "The numbers don't lie."
Johnson responded that "it's unfortunate that Audrey will leave with a legacy of not telling the truth. This is pathetic. People in Prince George's County are not going to buy it."
Scott's television spots are scheduled to run on cable stations in Prince George's County. The radio spots will be aired on two stations.
Johnson won a five-way Democratic primary with 37 percent of the vote. Since that September contest, he has rallied his former opponents and most of their supporters around his candidacy. Meanwhile, Scott has tried without success to lure Johnson into a debate. Her $100,000 media blitz is an attempt to get voters to focus on Johnson's eight years as county prosecutor.
Johnson said his campaign might buy some radio time, "but it wouldn't be to respond to her. She's so insignificant when it comes to the campaign. . . . The good thing about this election, at the end, at 8 p.m. when polls close on election night, we'll have no elected Republicans in Prince George's County."
Told of Johnson's remark, Scott said, "Tell him to dream on."