Florida House District 64 candidate Jessica Harrington has sent a cease and desist memo to the Republican Party of Florida following attack advertisements from opponent Traci Koster.
The advertisements claim the Democrat pledged to defund the police following her signing of the “Pledge to Achieve America’s Goals” — the mailer states “Jessica Harrington signed a pledge to defund the police. Harrington signed on to this ‘Model Legislation’ to defund our local sheriff and police departments.”
However, the pledge makes no mention of effort to defund the police. Instead, it provides seven goals: good jobs, affordable quality healthcare, investing in children, empowering people over special interests, equal opportunity for all, sustainable infrastructure and clean air, water and energy.
“At no time have I ever suggested any kind of defunding the police initiative,” Harrington said. “I believe in better training and more resources for our police.”
Many of you may have seen the negative and false attack ads coming from my opponent @TraciLKoster. She is falsely claiming that I signed a pledge to defund the police.
— Jessica Harrington 🍎 Teacher Candidate FL-D64 (@JHforFL) October 15, 2020
Mark Herron, the attorney for Harrington’s campaign, sent the cease and desist memo to the Florida Republican Party, which disseminated the ads on behalf of Koster.
“There is absolutely no factual basis for statements contained in the advertisements disseminated by the RPOF, which falsely alleges that Jessica Harrington signed a pledge to defund the police,” Herron said in an email to the Florida Republican Party. “The Jessica Harrington campaign demands that the RPOF cease and desist from disseminating such statements in any and all communications regarding Jessica Harrington.”
Another Koster campaign ad reads “Harrington and her allies believe that no police officers should be allowed to protect our children.” Koster has posted these ads on her Facebook page. Harrington maintains those are also false.
The claim is based on Harrington’s support from the Florida Democratic Progressive Caucus, which states under its platform that it “opposes the deployment of public, private or off-duty law enforcement in our schools or at our election sites.”
“This false attack is designed to distract,” Harrington said. “I want to keep talking with voters about the issues they care about such as affordable healthcare, etc.”
Koster told Florida Politics the ad is based an expansion of the pledge, which states that lawmakers seek to “improve public safety by reinvesting policing savings in community based and prevention programs” — a measure to relieve police officers of handling certain situations that can be addressed by other professionals. However, the explanation does not contain any mention of the terms “defunding police.”