Despite requests from the victim’s grandmother, the Minnesota Republican Party initially refused to take down an ad which referenced and used images of a child murdered by his stepmother in 2013, ThinkProgress reported.
The GOP’s ad supporting candidate Jeff Johnson blames current Minnesota governor Mark Dayton for 4-year-old Eric Dean’s death after state services failed to protect the child from his abusive stepmom.
Yvonne Dean, Eric’s grandmother, said the party did not ask for permission to use images of the boy in their advertisement.
“I just can’t believe somebody would use [Eric’s death] for political gain,” said Yvonne to the Minnesota Star Tribune. “To use our family’s tragedy is crossing the line.”
She said that when she called the Minnesota Republican Party yesterday morning, they told her they would not stop running the ad on tv. A member of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said of the ad, “there is no place in politics for this kind of advertisement.”
After the story gained media attention yesterday afternoon, the Minnesota GOP finally agreed to remove the images from the ad and Chairman Keith Downey “apologized for not contacting her before the ad was produced.”
Eric died in February of last year from “a perforated small intestine following abuse by his stepmother,” said ThinkPress. A Star Tribune investigation discovered that there had been 15 reports to child protective services about Eric’s abuse, but only one report about a broken arm was passed to police.
Yvonne says that, while she is a Republican, it’s “unfair” to blame Gov. Dayton for Eric’s death. She said that the “system failed Eric at the county level … how could that be [Dayton’s] fault?”
Exploiting tragedy is page one of the GOP playbook, but using the death of a child as a way to engage in political mudslinging is pretty low, even for them.