Project Vote Smart, a national nonpartisan organization, issued a sharp rebuke to a Republican group for "blatantly twisting" the organization’s candidate survey to bash a Democrat running for state Senate in District 6.

Adelaide Kimball, a spokeswoman for Project Vote Smart, said Tuesday that the Maine Senate Republican Majority Political Action Committee manipulated Democratic candidate Jim Boyle’s responses to the "political courage" survey in negative television and mail ads. 

The Maine Senate Republican Majority PAC is one of several groups spending big dollars on legislative races. In television and mail ads hitting Boyle, the group references Boyle’s answers to the political courage test to say that the Democrat wants to raise taxes. 

Kimball said Vote Smart prohibits the use of its name on campaign advertising because candidates and other groups use the information to attack their opponents. 

"This kind of negative campaign activity deliberately deceives voters and is precisely the sort of tactic that Vote Smart attempts to counter with its factual database," Kimball said. 

Kimball acknowledged that her organization has no legal recourse against the Republican PAC. However, she said, it was important that the public be made aware that the group’s claims were "blatantly manipulative and blatantly wrong."

The dust-up is the latest signal of how competitive the race in District 6 has become. The district includes Scarborough and Gorham where Boyle is taking on Republican Ruth Summers (Summers refused to answer the political courage test). 

Union-backed groups have been blasting Summers for her connection to virtual schools, which have recently come under scrutiny following a Maine Sunday Telegram investigation. Democrats have also sent some unusual mailers that appear to portray Boyle as an independent