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Cumberland County district attorney defends record as PAC money rolls into primary race

Cumberland County District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck is speaking out against out-of-state PAC contributions that are funding direct mailers to voters to try to influence the outcome of the primary election June 14.

Sahrbeck first ran as an independent and was elected to office in 2018. Last fall he enrolled in the Democratic Party when he launched his re-election campaign, saying his values align with the those of the party.

Jonathan Sahrbeck
Jonathan Sahrbeck

Now, Democratic billionaire George Soros is funding $300,000 worth of flyers characterizing Sahrbeck as a "flip flopping" candidate and attacking his record.

"A dark money, out-of-state PAC has come in distorting my record as a district attorney helping sex trafficking victims," Sahrbeck said. "They've spent $300,000 to try to defeat me. What are they trying to buy?"

Sahrbeck defended his record helping sex trafficking victims and supporting laws that protect them. Among Sahrbeck's supporters are victims of sex trafficking, a crime Sahrbeck first prosecuted when he joined the Cumberland County district attorney's office in 2016.

Catherine Wilson, of Stop Trafficking US, is a survivor of sex trafficking who said she objects to the way Sahrbeck is being misrepresented.

"We are fatigued from politics and pandemics," she said. "We want authenticity and the truth. Who are you and what's your history like and let us make the decision to lead us and to support us in our communities."

Sahrbeck's Democratic challenger, Jackie Sartoris, currently works as an assistant district attorney in Kennebec County. Sartoris said she doesn't support the way the PAC is setting the tone for the campaign. Her goals, she said, are to put public safety, criminal justice reform and transparency first.

There are no Republicans or independents listed on ballot, so whoever wins the primary June 14 will serve as the next Cumberland County district attorney.