ST. PAUL -- Suggesting a bruising fall campaign lies ahead, the first TV commercial in the 6th Congressional District race portrays U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy as a "greedy corporate executive" at the center of an accounting scandal.
Janet Robert, a Democrat challenging the first-term Republican, holds little back in her ad, which uses grainy images of Kennedy and accusatory buzzwords. The 30-second spot, which began airing Friday, fits with her repeated criticism of Kennedy on corporate accountability issues.
"Maybe Congress hasn't always protected us from greedy executives. But what do we do if our congressman is one?" Robert's ad concludes.
It drew loud complaints from Kennedy and his former employer, Department 56, the Eden Prairie-based collectibles retailer named in the ad.
Susan Engel, the company's chief executive officer and a self-described Democrat, came to his defense.
"There isn't an ounce of important truth," she said. "It's picking on an innocent company as well as Mark -- undeservedly."
Engel said company officials have asked Robert's campaign to pull the ad and are considering other options, which she would not detail.
Robert campaign manager Jay Neel said they will continue airing it. "We stand behind every word of the ad," he said.
The claims are based on a lawsuit filed by shareholders after the company's stock price dropped dramatically in April 2000 when it reported trouble with its new computer system.
The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge and never went to trial.
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