Beshear campaign uses Restoring America's legal issue in ad called 'clear violation'

10/20/2011 08:20 PM

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign uses its latest ad to highlight the legal controversy over an outside Republican group, and thus, undercut its legitimacy.

Beshear’s ad, called “Clear Violation,” gives the impression that a judge ordered commercials by the group Restoring America off the air because they were misleading.

In fact, a Franklin Circuit judge issued a restraining order to bar the ads because the group didn’t disclose who was funding the organization. That restraining order was lifted Thursday after Terry Stephens, the father-in-law of Republican candidate David Williams, stepped forward as the donor.

“These ads attacking Steve Beshear are not just misleading, they’re a ‘clear violation’ of Kentucky law,” the Beshear ad’s narrator said. “And the court ordered them off the air as an illegal attempt to influence the election and help David Williams.”

The ad started airing Thursday at 5 p.m., according to the public ad file with Insight Communications, the parent company of cn|2.

FACT CHECK:

  • The “clear violation” reference in the ad comes from the second page of the two-page restraining order signed by Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate. He was referencing the lack of disclosure of Restoring America’s donors:

“Such clear violation of statutory law constitutes immediate and irreparable injury,” Wingate wrote.

  • The “illegal attempt” portion comes from the sentence before that: “Specifically, without immediate court intervention, Restoring America and Restoring America, Inc., will continue to expressly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates in an illegal attempt to influence Kentucky’s 2011 General Election, while at the same time violating Kentucky’s campaign finance laws.”
  • The ad then pivots to criticize Williams, the state Senate president, saying he “personally blocked legislation” that is Beshear is most closely aligned with pushing: a bill to raise the high school dropout age from 16 to 18 and proposals allowing expanded gambling in Kentucky.

The state Senate hasn’t taken up the drop-out bill for a vote the last two years after the House passed it.

And only once has an expanded gambling measure reached the state Senate — in a special session in July 2009. A bill to allow slots at Kentucky’s horse racing tracks made it through the House but was voted down in a Senate committee.

Otherwise, the bill Beshear pushed in 2008 to allow casino gambling in Kentucky couldn’t get enough support in the House for a vote on the floor.

Good-cop-bad-cop ad strategy

Meanwhile, the Beshear campaign is playing an ad version of good-cop-bad-cop.

While it goes after the Republicans with one spot, it’s using first lady Jane Beshear to paint a rosy picture of the governor in another commercial.

The ad, titled “Great Team” features Jane Beshear as the narrator, sometimes talking directly to the viewer.

The second ad started Thursday as well.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston and Ryan Alessi

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.

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