April 19, 2000

37th 'smear' suit dropped; Lemon satisfied by apology from Harley consultant
By Tom Murse A political consultant to Kevin Harley's state House campaign has apologized for last-minute negative telephone calls against two of the candidate's April 4 primary opponents. The consultant, Don Raymond, "regrets any misperception" that Marc Lemon was behind more than 2,800 calls that accused fellow Republican candidate Tom Creighton of wrongdoing as a township supervisor, according to a letter written by Raymond's attorney. The phone messages indirectly suggested that Lemon had commissioned the calls. Raymond's apology does not state who asked him to commission the phone calls. And Harley said today that Raymond acted on his own without consulting him or his top strategists. The letter, dated Tuesday, apologizes to both Lemon and Creighton for any misperceptions created by the negative message. Today, Lemon said he was satisfied by the apology and will not file a lawsuit against Raymond or any of the other parties involved. And inquiries by the Lancaster County District Attorney's office and state Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation are also likely to be dropped. "At this point, I think the record's been cleared and I'm moving on, and we're all moving on," Lemon said. "I am suspending the matter...because they have responded and I think they've sufficiently met my demands." Creighton, who won the Republican primary, said this morning that the apology "is totally satisfactory to me." Raymond is vice president and treasurer of Raymond & Cliggett Inc., now called RCR Inc., of Phoenixville, Chester County. The firm was hired by Harley's campaign for the 37th Legislative District seat. Raymond hired Eagle Consulting Group in Harrisburg to make the calls, Eagle president Christopher Nicholas has confirmed. Nicholas then paid a Virginia company, Conquest Communications, to make the calls on the eve of the election. Although Raymond worked closely with Harley, Harley and his top strategist both maintain they had no idea that he commissioned the calls. "I think Raymond did it on his own, as far as I know. I mean, that's what he told me," Harley said. "I had a very frank discussion with him. I'm extremely upset and disappointed that he would take it upon himself to do something like that."

"I was extremely disappointed that someone...I was paying to do my mail and radio and TV production would engage in a smear campaign," Harley continued. "He took it upon himself to do it. I wasn't aware." "It was uncalled for...I just think it's despicable," Harley said. "If he told me he was doing this, I would have said, "You're not doing it.' " Bill Hall, one of Harley's top strategists, said neither he nor anyone else in the campaign asked Raymond to commission the phone calls. He said he was unaware that Raymond ordered the calls to be made. A copy of the apology letter was provided to the New Era by Lemon. But neither Raymond nor his attorney, Joseph D. Holston Jr. of Harrisburg, returned telephone calls seeking comment. Before the apology, Lemon had suggested the Harley campaign might be responsible. He fired off a letter to county, state and federal officials, charging that the calls were false, fraudulent and defamatory. He said he will now inform those officials that he is satisfied with apology. District Attorney Donald Totaro, who ordered an inquiry to determine whether election laws or criminal laws were broken, said this week that his office would not pursue the matter if Lemon indicated he was satisfied. This morning, though, Totaro cautioned that he will wait to see Lemon's letter before making a decision on whether to suspend the inquiry. And an election bureau spokeswoman said that the agency does not investigate a complaint if the parties involved eventually resolve the matter. From the beginning of the dispute, Lemon has indicated that he would not pursue the issue through a lawsuit if he got an apology. "I was able to negotiate a resolution with the other party," he said this morning. "At this point I'm looking forward to doing whatever I can to help bring the party together to become one unit. "I feel that the group responsible for this has been identified and has cleared the record," Lemon continued, "and everyone can draw their own conclusions as to the actions of those responsible."

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