Growing public outrage at Juneau Rep. Cathy Munoz’ decision to send letters of support for two defendants in child sex abuse cases could jeopardize her once seemingly inevitable re-election bid.
According to the Juneau Empire:
“Rep. Cathy MuÃ±oz, and several others in Southeast Alaska, have sent letters to Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg, asking him to consider a lighter sentence for Thomas Jack Jr.”
“Tom’s conviction has had a profound impact on me. There have been times when I laid awake at night unable to sleep concerned over the length of his sentence and the cold reality that he may never see freedom again,” MuÃ±oz wrote to Pallenberg, according to a copy of the letter. “He is not a violent person, and I believe he would respond well to rehabilitation.”
Alaska Democrats, feeling a public backlash again Munoz and seeing an opening for Democrat challenger Justin Parish, sent out this statement this morning:
ANCHORAGE: Alaska Democratic Party Chair Casey Steinau released the following statement in response to revelations that Representative Cathy Munoz wrote letters on behalf of the defendants in two child sex abuse cases:
“Representative Munoz’s decision to ignore the victims of abuse while protecting those responsible is wholly unacceptable. It’s hard to imagine a greater evil than hurting a child. Sex crimes are especially heinous and haunt children for a lifetime. Elected officials like Munoz should never write letters like these during sentencing, regardless of the letterhead used or how close she is to the offenders. Alaska has a problem with child abuse and sexual assault. Her choice to dedicate energy and resources to protect someone convicted on eight felony counts of child endangerment and a dangerous child molester is a manifestation of the serious problem in Juneau today. Munoz had her chance to tell her side of the story and her defense indicates she does not understand the seriousness of the situation. Unfortunately, this is not the first time she exercised the wrong judgment.”
Munoz won re-election two years ago by a wide 62%-37% margin over Democrat George McGuan. Until now, it appeared she would once again sail smoothly to another win.
Last week seven of Munoz’ colleagues in the House majority caucus were defeated in their primary elections in what many believe to be an anti-incumbent wave. If that is the case, Munoz, with this issue hanging around her neck, could be in trouble.