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NRA confirms Sente is not a member
By Vincent Pierri | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/29/2010 12:01 AM

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Officials from the Virginia-based National Rifle Association confirmed Thursday that state Rep. Carol Sente is not a member of the guns rights group, contrary to automated campaign calls being made.

The calls produced by a Republican organization funded by House Minority Leader Tom Cross claimed Sente, a Democratic candidate for state House District 59, was a member and would work to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the private organization cannot divulge information about current members, but would confirm Sente is not a member.

"I'm happy to have the record set straight," Sente said Thursday. "It's disappointing something like this shows up at the eleventh hour."

Automated calls went out this week in Sente's district. She is running against Buffalo Grove Village President Elliott Hartstein in the Feb. 2 Democratic primary.

One part of the 24-second statement, which began Wednesday, says "Carol Sente is a member of the National Rifle Association and will be trusted to advance issues that would allow people to carry concealed weapons and reduce restrictions and regulations to buy guns."

Sente has denied membership in the NRA and said the calls, made by a group named Citizens to Change Illinois, were designed to hurt her campaign. Sente speculated the Republicans might want her defeated so they could face Hartstein in November.

"They believe he would be the weaker of the two Democratic candidates," she said in a statement.

Cross' press secretary Sara Wojcicki said the reason Citizens to Change Illinois initiated the call was "Because it was information voters might be interested in," Wojcicki said via e-mail Thursday.

Founded in 2007, the Plainfield-based Citizens to Change Illinois is a Republican group fully funded by Cross, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Wojcicki defended the claim Sente is an NRA member. Wojcicki said an NRA "official" confirmed Sente's membership.

"Our campaign director stands by his statement that an NRA official told him that Rep. Sente was an NRA member," Wojcicki said in an e-mail Thursday.

But spokesman Arulanandam said no official or employee of the NRA made such a statement.