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Fisher alleges dirty politics in county race

by: File photo, Earl Fisher alleges Columbia County Commissioner Joe Corsiglia is behind a smear campaign

Earl Fisher, a candidate running against incumbent Columbia County Commissioner Joe Corsiglia as a Democrat for the position 1 seat in the upcoming May primary, said he believes Corsiglia was behind a campaign intended to intimidate him into abandoning his election aspirations.

If so, and if public resources were used to orchestrate the campaign, it could constitute a violation of Oregon election's law.

Fisher produced what appears to be e-mails sent from Corsiglia's county e-mail address to Tom Fuller, a Yale-educated consultant working for Columbia County and the Port of St. Helens on the Port Westward project. Fisher says the e-mails show that Corsiglia had dug up the background of his son, Thomas, who pleaded guilty to a sex crime in 2005 or 2006.

Fisher said he believes the e-mails were intended as a warning to him to stay out of the election, and that they were channeled through Fuller on the intention they would ultimately reach Fisher's attention.

Fisher acknowledged that Thomas, while serving in the U.S. Marines on a part-time assignment in Virginia, was caught in an Internet sting intended to draw out people willing to have sex with minors.

Thomas was in his mid-20s when he responded to an e-mail sent from an undercover police officer pretending to be a 15-year-old girl. Police arrested Thomas when he arrived at the scene, and he pleaded guilty to a felony crime and received a five-year suspended sentence for the crime, Fisher said.

'My take on that is that was my son's issue,' Fisher said when asked about the incident. 'I'm more concerned why somebody stoops to that level to run a campaign.'

Fisher alleges that Corsiglia sent Fuller three e-mails that reference his son's crime.

The first, dated May 9, 2007, appears to have been sent from Corsiglia to Fuller, and it lists the sex offense. In a reply, Fuller asks Corsiglia if Fisher knows about the offense. An e-mail that appears to be from Corsiglia reponds that Fisher knows about the sex crime.

When asked about the e-mails, Corsiglia said he not familiar with them and would have to see the e-mails in order to comment on them. When the Spotlight offered to fax the e-mails to Corsiglia for review on Monday, he declined the offer, saying that he did not want to use public resources for that purpose.

Corsiglia said the e-mails to Fuller illustrate the kind of activity that has raised his suspicion about computer tampering.

A message left at Fuller's office in Portland was not returned.

Fisher said he is '100 percent' certain that the e-mails are authentic.