Dayton sex assault rumor knocked down with old-fashioned reporting

The smear campaign against Mark Dayton began bubbling up last week--just in time, a callous political strategist might reason, to tip a tight Governors race.

Last week Fox9 dedicated a segment to the scurrilous allegation--simultaneously sent to multiple news organizations in anonymous envelopes--that Dayton sexually assaulted a campaign staffer in 1998.

We called the family of the woman who was allegedly victimized, and they say the allegation is totally false.

The documents themselves are nothing more than campaign finance records and divorce paperwork. But whoever sent them included a typed narrative making the unsupported allegations of a sexual assault.

Nonetheless, Minnesota Democrats Exposed blogger Luke Hellier teased these documents for days. Tom Lyden of Fox9 took the bait and splashed the story on the TV news, in a segment that raised more questions than it cleared up. (Fox has since pulled the story from its website.)

Today, we reached two men by phone: the ex-husband and current husband of the campaign staffer who was allegedly sexually assaulted. Both say it's nothing but a smear campaign to tarnish the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

"To tell you the truth, Mark Dayton's going to get my vote," says the ex-husband, who was married to the woman during her employment with the Dayton campaign. "He's been a friend, a mentor, a confidant. What this is is just a cheesy attempt to try and throw mud at him. It's pretty stupid."

We tried to reach the woman named in the documents, but she didn't answer. Instead, we talked to her husband, who is apparently tired of answering questions from political operatives.

"Yeah, I'm not interested in any of that," he said. "No comment, basically."

CP: We think it might be a smear campaign.

Yep. That's what I would think. That would be what I think. Yeah. No comment, basically from me, so.

What about your wife, could I talk with her?

No comment. Too much trash calls lately. No comment on any of it. It's just a smear campaign.

Have you been getting a lot of reporter calls?

Yep. No comment is officially our comment on all that kind of crap, so. Appreciate it.

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