Temperatures are dropping, the leaves are changing colors and the political dirt is flying - it must be fall.

Third District congressional hopeful Bob Stringham launched the latest salvo Friday, accusing state and local Republican leaders of a political coverup of facts concerning the Timpanogos Community Mental Health Center scandal.Stringham, a Democrat, claims that Attorney General David Wilkinson is stalling the investigation on Timp Mental Health to "enhance the Republican incumbents' chances." Local Republican leaders, however, said the accusations lack foundation.

"The general public needs to know that there is a coverup," Stringham said, "and that all three Utah County commissioners have an involvement in it."

All three commissioners, however, said Stringham's allegations are baseless. They said there is no political reason for a coverup because Commissioner Brent Morris is running unopposed, Commission Chairman Malcolm Beck is not up for re-election and Commissioner Gary Anderson is not running.

But Stringham maintained that GOP leaders from Gov. Norm Bangerter on down are withholding vital information concerning the investigation.

"The governor is ultimately responsible for the coverup. I cannot believe that the governor would allow this stall," he said.

"We need the facts. It is not fair to the people who are forgotten - the employees of Timp Mental Health," Stringham said.

Stringham, who said he was representing the state Democratic leadership, said legislative audits could have been released six weeks ago if Republican leaders wanted the public to know the results.

Craig Moody, chairman of the State Republican Party, challenged Stringham to come forth with information that would point to a coverup.

"Any assertions by Mr. Stringham relative to a coverup, to my knowledge, are an outright lie," Moody said. "This kind of dirty politics, accusations without fact, is what we have come to expect from the Democratic Party.

"If he has any knowledge or any facts, bring them forth. Don't play the dirty politics game without anything to back them up. My challenge is right back to him. Don't lay out accusations," Moody said.

Morris said Stringham is uninformed about the Timp issue and that he has no right to make allegations.

"Mr. Stringham has not been in attendance in the closed sessions that the Board of Timpanogos Mental Health has conducted in reference to criminal, civil and personnel activities," Morris said.

"How can he point a finger without knowing what requests were made in those closed meetings. I am offended by his comments."

Stringham also demanded a public apology from Moody and Republican Party leadership for information prepared by the GOP comparing party platforms.

"What the Republican leadership and Craig Moody are doing is misleading the public," Stringham said. He called it a "piece of garbage," and demanded that Moody and others apologize to Utahns.

"I am not sure who in the party put the comparison together," Moody said. "The real question is who really are the Democrats." Moody called for Stringham and other Democratic leaders to bring forth the issues and "tell us where you stand."