Grimes counters outside group's amnesty ads

09/24/2014 11:36 AM

UPDATED WITH SECOND KENTUCKY OPPORTUNITY COALITION SPOT: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes released a web ad Wednesday, countering an attack ad from a pro-McConnell group last week that said she supports amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

Grimes’ spot, titled “Say Anything,” features Republican U.S. Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina speaking in favor of an immigration reform bill that passed the Senate, without McConnell’s support, last year. The legislation ultimately died in the House.

“This is not amnesty,” McCain says in the spot, taken from an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

The online ad can be viewed here:

The ad comes after the nonprofit group Kentucky Opportunity Coalition released a pair of television ads insinuating Grimes backs amnesty for undocumented immigrants. The ads, which cost about $2.1 million in air time, juxtaposes Grimes with President Barack Obama, who both say in the spot they support a pathway to citizenship.

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition’s ad, released Sept. 16, can be seen here:

The second ad, released Tuesday, can be seen here:

The Grimes campaign included in its release Wednesday an article from The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which gave the group’s spot a three-Pinnochio rating the day after the first spot aired.

From The Washington Post:

Grimes certainly supports a bill that would prove a pathway to citizenship for undocumented aliens, as does Obama. Whether this is “amnesty” is in the eye of the beholder. But this was not a bill crafted by either Obama or Grimes, but a coalition of Republicans and Democrats–an unusual example of bipartisan cooperation in this period of intense partisanship.

Moreover, the bill that emerged from the Senate set tough rules for that pathway — including denying access to virtually all federal means-tested benefits. In doing so, the bill largely met criteria set by donors and supporters of the very organization that is now blasting Grimes on this issue. It is bizarre and hypocritical for this group to now falsely attack Grimes for supporting a middle ground approach that its supporters once championed.

Kentucky Opportunity Coalition’s spot also includes an allusion immigrants receiving tax-funded benefits such as Medicare, which The Washington Post also questioned because the legislation that cleared the Senate included a provision stating Registered Provision Immigrants would not have access to benefits like Medicare or food stamps.

Scott Jennings, senior advisor to Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, stood by his ad in The Washington Post piece.

“While you are correct that she (Grimes) didn’t author or write the immigration bill, she has clearly, on numerous occasions, supported the idea of allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens, as has Obama,” Jennings told the newspaper. “… Our ad is about the benefits illegal immigrants would get when they become citizens, not ‘registered provisional immigrants,’ so your point is irrelevant.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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