Minnesota GOP To Stop Using Pictures Of Murdered Child In Political Ads After Grandmother Complains

| by Jared Keever

The Minnesota Republican Party has agreed to revise an ad that used images of a young boy whose death they sought to exploit for political gain. 

The Associated Press reports the ad was intended to paint current Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton as incompetent for failing to prevent four-year-old Eric Dean’s death. 

Dean died in 2013 of injuries sustained while being abused by his stepmother. A September piece from the Star Tribune reported that only one of the numerous reports of abuse was ever passed on to police. The young boy eventually died of a perforated intestine, the reported result of having been thrown across a room by the stepmother.

Dean’s grandmother, Yvonne Dean, contacted the Republican Party after seeing the ad that featured the picture of her dead grandson. 

“Our family's trying to heal, and with this now, it's bringing everything up again and it's just so hard to move on,” she told the Star Tribune last week. “This type of ad campaign needs to stop.”

The grandmother, who said she was Republican, asserted she didn’t blame the sitting governor for the child’s death. 

“I just can't believe somebody would use (Eric’s death) for political gain,” she told the Star Tribune in a separate article. “I am awestruck that they have done something like this .. to use our family's tragedy, is crossing the line.”

She said the “system failed Eric at the county level … how could that be Governor Dayton's fault?”

Political analyst Larry Jacobs, who is a professor with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, said the ad might have been effective but using the boy’s image likely crossed the line.

“It’s one of those ads that is right up to the boundary and is maybe crossing the boundary over what most Minnesotans are going to consider appropriate,” Jacobs told WCCO. “It’s really not the kind of thing they want to see in their living rooms.”

Yvonne Dean said the Republican Party agreed to change the ad after she complained.

The party released a statement apologizing to the family for not notifying them prior to releasing the ad and said it was working to edit out the picture of the boy.

“The ad is currently being revised and an edited version will begin airing as soon as possible,” the statement read.

Dean said she agreed with party leaders that it would be acceptable for the ad to feature headlines referencing her grandson’s death. 

Sources: KSTP (AP Story), Star Tribune (September), Star Tribune, Star Tribune, WCCO

Photo Source: KTSP