Hal Heiner criticizes other campaigns for capitalizing on abuse claims in new TV ad

05/15/2015 09:39 AM

Republican gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner is accusing two of his opponents of using abuse allegations against Agriculture Commissioner James Comer “to score political points” in a television ad released Friday.

While Comer and Louisville investment manager Matt Bevin have cried foul for negative ads aired by outside spenders supporting Heiner’s candidacy, this marks the first time Heiner has gone on the attack on TV. He has previously declined to comment on the allegations against Comer.

“Instead of protecting the young lady and three witnesses who came forward, Matt and Jamie are assigning blame and accusing these women of lies and payoffs, attacking them for their own political gain,” Heiner says as text fills the screen, including comments from Comer’s attorney questioning the mental state of the woman, Marilyn Thomas; Bevin calling the claims “uncorroborated;” and Comer alleging Thomas “was probably offered money.”

The 30-second ad can be viewed here:

Allegations of abuse have embroiled Kentucky Republican gubernatorial primary since Thomas accused Comer of physical and mental abuse during a two-year relationship at Western Kentucky University in the early 1990s as well as escorting her to a Louisville abortion clinic in November 1991.

Comer has vehemently denied Thomas’ claims, which she made in a four-page letter to The Courier-Journal. The newspaper interviewed Thomas’ mother and roommate, and a second roommate later came forward to say she at one point threatened to call police in order to get Comer to leave during an argument with Thomas.

Comer’s and Bevin’s campaigns did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

“Rather than campaign on the issues, Comer’s campaign has openly talked about how the domestic abuse allegations against him have actually helped him in this election,” Heiner spokesman Doug Alexander said in a statement.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when the only way Comer can solidify support for his campaign (is) by calling Ms. Thomas, her 83 year old mother and other innocent bystanders liars.”

Heiner’s campaign said the ad came in response to a spot released by a pro-Comer super political action committee Kentuckians for Growth, Opportunity and Prosperity.

The KGOP spot says Heiner’s campaign brought “gutter politics” into the Republican primary.

“Even after a forced apology to James Comer, Heiner denies involvement,” a female narrator says in the ad, which can be viewed here:

The ad’s referencing a story by The Lexington Herald-Leader, which reported on communication between an anti-Comer blogger and the husband of Heiner’s running mate.

The spot also links Bevin to the controversy through his comments on a meeting with Heiner during a debate on Kentucky Sports Radio.

“Hal himself has personally told me months and months ago that he knew things, that he knew things about Jamie Comer,” Bevin says in the ad as the phrases “secret meeting?” and “Heiner & Bevin” emerge on the screen.

Bevin “wants mother more than to attack and create disarray as long as it helps him politically,” Alexander said in a statement.

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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