State Journal: Anything goes?; Building bailout

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Only a short time ago, the New Jersey Education Association and Democratic lawmakers in the state customarily found themselves in the same camp. Ever since the teachers' union bucked tradition and decided to cast its lot with many Republicans during the 1991 elections, though, the relationship has deteriorated.

It apparently took another dive late last month when Sen. John A. Lynch, the Democratic former president of the Senate, filed suit against the N.J.E.A. on charges of libel.

In a suit filed in state superior court, Mr. Lynch, now the Senate minority leader, alleges that the union sought to destroy his candidacy last year by falsely and knowingly stating that he had "mob connections.''

The Senator's lawyer, Stephen M. Holden, claims that the N.J.E.A. took control of his Republican opponent's campaign to "punish ... [and] destroy'' Mr. Lynch.

The union was angry at Mr. Lynch for imposing school-spending caps, protesting teachers' pay increases, and providing tax relief with funds initially targeted for education, Mr. Holden said.

The N.J.E.A. had not commented on the suit as of last week.

But Senator Lynch says his lawsuit should serve notice that political candidates and their supporters will no longer be able to say anything they want in the heat of a campaign battle.

"I am convinced the public is fed up with the anything-goes nature of negative campaigning,'' he said.

The Indiana Republican Party and the Indiana State Teachers Association are at odds over whether the association should be renting out office space to several state agencies while there are vacancies in the new State Government Center.

Rex Early, the G.O.P. chairman, last week accused the agencies of subsidizing the I.S.T.A., which had experienced financial troubles after renovating a large office building it owns in Indianapolis.

Mr. Early suggested that the agencies may have bailed out the I.S.T.A.--a supporter of Gov. Evan Bayh and other Democratic candidates in most statewide races--in return for political help.

But Garrett Harbron, the president of the union, called the charges "nonsense.'' The I.S.T.A. has "traditionally had a number of state agencies in its building'' because of its location across the street from the Statehouse, he said.

Cameron Carter, the Republican Party political director, argued that there "was an appearance of impropriety here'' since the agencies could be renting space designated for them by the state.--K.D. & J.R.

Vol. 12, Issue 11

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