Palmer casts Dr. Ralph Alvarado as drug dealer in negative campaign ad using spliced courtroom footage

10/24/2014 08:08 PM

In perhaps the nastiest ad of the 2014 Kentucky electoral season, state Sen. R.J. Palmer’s campaign portrays his Republican opponent, Dr. Ralph Alvarado, essentially as a drug dealer.

The ad released Thursday on cable and two local affiliates uses courtroom video from 2010 carefully spliced together to cast Alvarado, who unsuccessfully challenged the Senate Democratic floor leader for the seat in 2010, in a negative light.

In the 30-second advertisement, a defendant addresses a judge in a Montgomery County courtroom in November of 2010 on a drug charge. The ad cuts to a back and forth between the defendant who was arrested for attempting to traffic $3,000 worth of prescription pills.


Judge: What’s he on?
Police officer: OxyContin.
Judge: Where’s it from?
Defendant: Dr. Ralph Alvarado…
Judge: The one running for state senator?
Judge: Oh my Lord.

The ad then features a narrator declaring it’s “No wonder Dr. Ralph Alvarado called Kentucky’s pill mill law a ‘lousy piece of legislation.’ He’s getting rich off addiction.”

The ad then cuts back to the courtroom to the police officer telling the judge the defendant has $3,000 worth of pills, to which the judge says, “You have got to be kidding me.”

Here is the ad as it aired Friday morning:

However, Republicans and attorneys say the ad crossed a major line when the courtroom video was spliced by the Palmer campaign.

The actual conversation takes place when the judge orders the defendant to take a drug test before discovering a grocery bag full of prescription pills.


Judge: Oh my Lord. What’s he on?
Police officer: Got a bag full of stuff. Inaudible
Judge: Where’s it from?
Defendant: Dr. Ralph Alvarado.
Judge: The one that’s running for state senator?
Defendant: Yeah. I was a brick layer and I got hurt on the job.
Judge: So you got valid prescriptions for what all?

A video of the November 2010 court proceeding obtained by Pure Politics shows that the conversation did not happen the way the Palmer campaign has made it appear.

Watch the video below:

Alvarado’s attorney Chad Meredith responded on behalf of Alvarado in a statement sent to Pure Politics saying that Palmer edited the video for “political gain.”

Dr. Alvarado is a good man and a physician of the highest caliber. He does not deserve to be maligned, nor does he deserve to have fabricated attacks made against him. It appears that Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer altered video evidence for political gain. Candidates can say a lot of things during a campaign, but there is a line that should never be crossed, and Senator Palmer’s false attacks and fabrication of evidence to support those attacks cross that line.

Meredith also sent a letter to television stations, including Time Warner, to pull the advertisement from the airwaves, citing false and defamatory statements on the Palmer campaign’s part.

Download the full letter sent to Time Warner here: Alvarado Ad Pull Ltr Time Warner.pdf

The ad was decried by Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Steve Robertson, who told Pure Politics the spot is the “most horrific thing I have ever seen in a political campaign.”

The ad was briefly pulled from the airwaves on Friday but then put back on the air with Palmer’s face and a disclaimer stating the ad was paid for by the campaign fund to re-elect R.J. Palmer.

The Federal Communications Commission requires political advertisements show the candidate’s face at the end of the ad, not the beginning. The original ad only featured a text disclaimer at the beginning.

(A)t the end of such broadcast there appears simultaneously, for a period no less than 4 seconds –
(i) a clearly identifiable photographic or similar image of the candidate; and
(ii) a clearly readable printed statement, identifying the candidate and stating that the candidate has approved the broadcast and that the candidate’s authorized committee paid for the broadcast.

Dale Emmons, a Kentucky Democratic political consultant, has signed previous FCC listings to run Palmer’s campaign ads and was listed as a press contact on a statement sent to Pure Politics on the ad. Emmons is also working as an adviser for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes in her campaign against Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

In an eight-paragraph statement sent to Pure Politics, the campaign did not dispute the court proceeding was edited, but it continued its offensive against Alvarado.

“When leadership was needed to address Kentucky’s prescription pill abuse epidemic, Dr. Ralph Alvarado fought back Senator R.J. Palmer’s efforts to ensure reasonable safeguards to protect Kentucky families and children.

The defendant in the courtroom video was receiving OxyContin from Dr. Alvarado six and a half years after sustaining an alleged injury.

The particular prescription of OxyContin in the courtroom that day was given to the defendant by Dr. Alvarado 4 days after he was arrested for attempting to traffic $3,000 dollars of prescription painkillers.

Unsurprisingly, the defendant also has an entire bag of ‘valid’ narcotic prescriptions with him in the court room as well. Officers of the Court are pulling bottle after bottle of pills out of a bag, and the never get to the bottom.

At one point in proceedings, the court muses that it would be pointless to administer a drug test to the defendant because he would test positive for ‘everything.’”

Read the full statement here: Statement.docx

Palmer, D-Winchester, defeated Alvarado by 1,936 votes in the 2010 election.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or



Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.