Family of abused boy gets GOP to change attack ad

Published 9:45 am Friday, October 24, 2014

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Republican Party scrambled Thursday to revise a television ad that accuses Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton of incompetence after the grandmother of a 4-year-old boy whose death was highlighted in the spot complained it was inappropriate.

Republican Party chairman Keith Downey said he would respect the wishes of Yvonne Dean and remove any images or mentions of her grandson, Eric Dean, who was killed by his stepmother last year after numerous reports of his maltreatment went unanswered by social services. The case exposed failings in Minnesota’s child protection system.

The grandmother, who said she was a Republican, publicly complained that her family was blindsided by the ad that began airing Wednesday. It featured a photo of Eric, smiling through bruises on his face, next to a grainy photo of the governor. She said the party didn’t warn her family that the case would be cited in the political ad or ask permission to use the photo.

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“To use his death for political gain is wrong,” Dean told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. The 57-year-old grandmother said her family is just trying to heal.