BANGOR (AP) – Republican 2nd District congressional candidate Brian Hamel said Monday that his opponent Rep. Michael Michaud hired a consulting firm known for harsh political attacks that can turn the tone of a campaign nasty.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic incumbent brushed aside Hamel’s assertions, saying hiring a consultant in a political race is standard operating procedure. “We have every intention of running a positive, clean campaign based on the congressman’s record,” said Monica Castellanos.

The one-term congressman hired the Stanford Everhart research firm despite requests to run a positive campaign, Hamel said.

Hamel said the Michaud campaign paid the Austin, Texas, research firm $6,141 this year and $5,000 in 2002, but acknowledged that he has not seen or heard any negative ads or commentary based on information gathered by the firm.

Stanford Everhart’s Web site describes it a Democratic opposition research company founded in 1997.

“All we do is ground political rhetoric into documented fact,” said company President Jason Stanford. “We’re like the Consumer Reports’ of campaigns.”

Hamel said Stanford Everhart requested “minute details” concerning his tenure with the Loring Development Authority, which helped to transform a former Air Force bomber base in northern Maine into a commercial center.

Stanford said Michaud’s campaign instructed him “not to look into anything personal” about Hamel.

, adding, “The use of my work product is completely the decision of the Mike Michaud campaign.”

A letter Hamel sent to Michaud on June 28 expresses “my desire to enter into a positive campaign pledge with you.”

On July 8, Michaud wrote back, saying, “I concur that voters much prefer an honest debate of the issues rather than a barrage of negative and misleading attacks.”

But the congressman’s letter also said he was a victim of “an all-out assault” during the 2002 congressional race against Kevin Raye, in which he said his 22-year legislative record was distorted.

Michaud’s letter said he would sign a pledge this year if Hamel in turn guarantees that the National Republican Congressional Committee and others advocating on behalf of the GOP candidate also sign a clean-campaign pledge.

Castellanos repeated that challenge to Hamel on Monday.

Hamel said he cannot control activities of independent organizations outside his campaign.

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