- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Members of Virginia's law enforcement community yesterday called for the resignation of Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark L. Earley's press secretary after he dismissed a police association endorsement as not reflective of rank-and-file officers.
After two associations representing police and sheriffs endorsed Democratic candidate Mark R. Warner last week, Mr. Earley's spokesman, David Botkins, told The Washington Times the associations weren't "representative of the street cop and the line officer."
Yesterday, in a telephone news conference with reporters, police association members called the remarks everything from "bizarre" to "disturbing" to "ludicrous" and said Mr. Botkins' remarks lacked understanding of police officers.
"I'd say Mr. Botkins has absolutely no idea of the feeling of police out there," said Don Cahill, a retired Prince William County police officer.
The International Union of Police and the Virginia Coalition of Police and Deputy Sheriffs endorsed Mr. Warner because, they said, he will support police and sheriffs' departments in his state budgets and on other issues.
That prompted Mr. Botkins' remarks, which he said yesterday he intended to mean that many officers and deputies will still vote for Mr. Earley because of his record as state attorney general.
Christopher LaCivita, a senior adviser to the Earley campaign, said yesterday the two police associations' endorsements weren't surprising since they are both members of the AFL-CIO, which has already endorsed Mr. Warner. He also said Mr. Botkins won't be fired.
"If he offended the AFL-CIO, I would like to give him a raise," he said. "You know what's bizarre and disturbing and ludicrous is the fact that Mark Warner trashed George Allen's plan to abolish parole back in 1993, and maybe they ought to keep their focus on that as opposed to partisan politics. But then again I wouldn't expect anything else from the AFL-CIO."
The issue is likely to come up again tonight when the two candidates meet in Richmond for the third debate of the campaign.
The sheriffs and police officers who took part in the phone conference said they're supporting Mr. Warner because he has promised to look after their concerns, particularly with respect to state police and local law enforcement staffing levels. They also dismissed the Law Enforcement Alliance of America's endorsement of Mr. Earley, calling the group a front for the National Rifle Association that has few officers among its 65,000 members nationwide.
But Mr. Earley's staffers said their candidate has "stood shoulder to shoulder" with police as attorney general and has been at the forefront of public safety legislation. They saw the telephone conference, sponsored by the Warner campaign, as a way to deflect Mr. Earley's recent charge that Mr. Warner wants to raise taxes.
"They ought to be talking about why they want to raise taxes on the people of Virginia," Mr. LaCivita said. "Veterans on fixed incomes and retired veterans can least afford a sales-tax increase."
That was a response to the Warner campaign's other event yesterday, in which Mr. Warner went to the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond to announce the formation of a committee of veterans who support his bid for governor.
In particular, Mr. Warner who was joined by his father and father-in-law, both World War II veterans has promised to build another veterans care center in the state. The current center in Roanoke is filled and has a waiting list.
But Mr. Botkins, Mr. Earley's spokesman, said Mr. Earley made the same promise back in July when he announced the formation of a committee of veterans supporting his own bid for governor.

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