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Impact of settlement details on campaigns unclear

Neither side will say if report about deal between Sherwood, Ore will force a change in strategy.

U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood remained silent Friday about a news report that revealed some of the details of a settlement reached with his former mistress.

Sherwood, a four-term Republican, and his Democratic challenger Chris Carney entered the final days of the campaign with Carney holding an 8.6-point lead in the latest poll conducted by Lycoming College.

Neither the Sherwood nor Carney camps would say if Thursday’s Associated Press report would alter their campaign strategies. The AP said that said an unnamed source claimed that Sherwood agreed to pay Cynthia Ore $500,000 in exchange for her silence in the months leading up to the election. The agreement was reached in November 2005.

Sherwood spokesman Jake O’Donnell said the congressman would continue to campaign and attempt to motivate the GOP base in the 10th Congressional District where Republicans outnumber Democrats by a ratio of 2 to 1.

Carney spokesman Kyra Jennings refused to say if, or how, her campaign might take advantage of the new information offered in the Associated Press story. She added that Carney’s campaign did not distribute the information to the public as a smear tactic.

“We had no details of the settlement up until now, so it was somewhat enlightening, as I’m sure it was to people across the district,” Jennings said.

Sherwood is legally obligated to keep quiet about the terms of the settlement, O’Donnell said, while taking the opportunity to skewer the AP when asked about the congressman’s scheduled appearances this weekend.

“We’ve decided in light of The Associated Press article, to make the congressman’s weekend schedule available by contacting a person familiar with the terms of the deal,” O’Donnell said.

The action stems from Ore’s allegations that Sherwood choked her and continually abused her throughout their five-year relationship. However, O’Donnell refused to say whether the settlement amount, attributed to an anonymous source familiar with the case, was accurate.

“The timing makes me suspicious,” O’Donnell said. “The person used as a source in the story is anonymous and the reasons for maintaining that person’s anonymity are not given. I think this is nothing but a blatant political smear.”

Sally Hale, chief of AP’s Pennsylvania bureau, said the Sherwood campaign made no attempt Friday to challenge the AP for its use of an anonymous source.

According to the report, Ore received less than half of the money promised in the settlement and will not receive the remainder until after Tuesday’s election. Part of the requirements of the agreement says that if Ore speaks publicly about the case, she will forfeit some of the money, the story said.

Ore and the attorneys who represented her in the case, Patrick Regan and Ning Ye, could not be reached for comment Friday.

In June 2005, Ore filed a federal civil lawsuit against Sherwood, asking for $5.5 million. Both parties agreed to the confidential, out-of-court settlement in November of the same year.

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