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Dixon campaign cries foul over ad's Collins-for-vet switch

There are many photos out there of county executive candidate Lynne M. Dixon, say her Republican supporters.

So they are questioning why the campaign of incumbent Democrat Mark C. Poloncarz altered a photo of Dixon posed next to a Purple Heart veteran for his recent television ad.

The Poloncarz campaign removed the image of Vietnam veteran Russell Ward and replaced it with disgraced ex-Rep. Chris Collins.

“It was an event she attended with Purple Heart veterans,” said Dixon campaign manager Bryan Fiume. “For some reason they chose that one, kicked out the vet and substituted Chris Collins. They couldn’t even find one of her with Chris Collins.”

The ad, which political observers assign to the negative category, attempts to link Dixon to Collins when he was county executive from 2008-2012. It says Dixon, a county legislator, voted with Collins 600 times, approved cuts to county parks, and decreased money for day care programs.

It also notes that Dixon campaign consultant Christopher M. Grant worked for Collins, noting the then-congressman’s pending charges for insider trading.

Fiume said Dixon served in the County Legislature for only two of Collins’ four years in office, voted against one Collins budget, voted for a second Collins budget after his 2011 defeat, and then worked with Poloncarz to include subsequent amendments.

“The body meets 22 times a year,” Fiume said of the ad’s claim of 600 pro-Collins votes. “They aren’t taking 13 consequential votes each session. The vast majority of items in the Erie County Legislature pass unanimously.”

Poloncarz campaign manager Jennifer L. Hibit said the ad has been taken down.

“I feel like it’s a moot point,” she said.

Still, she defended its contents as “actual and factual,” adding the ad features citations and references to its sources.

“This makes them unhappy because of the current events with the former congressman,” Hibit said, referring to Collins’ guilty plea earlier this week to charges related to insider trading.

Hibit also said the Dixon photo used in the ad resulted from a Google search and an image of Dixon posing with Ward at a Military Order of the Purple Heart event back in June.

“We would never do anything to disrespect veterans,” she said.

Ward, who received the award following wounds sustained about 50 years ago, said he has no problem with the Poloncarz ad lifting Dixon from the pose. He said his organization has worked well with Dixon and Poloncarz, and that it strives for non-partisanship.

“We really appreciate people who honor us,” he said. “I don’t really object to this. And I haven’t made up my mind yet about who I will vote for.”

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