Pro-McConnell super PAC hitting TV airwaves in state House races

10/06/2016 05:21 PM

A super PAC that made its name attacking opponents of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014 is now setting its sights on the state’s House of Representatives, running ads to boost GOP chances of retaking control of the chamber for the first time since 1921.

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership is airing advertisements in the Louisville, Hazard and Bowling Green broadcast markets, with more planned for Lexington airwaves later this month.

The group’s senior advisor, Scott Jennings, did not respond to phone and email messages seeking comment. Pure Politics obtained a copy of a 30-second spot supporting Democrat-turned-Republican Denny Butler in his re-election fight for the 38th House District.

“Frankfort is broken with corruption and scandal,” a male narrator says as a photo of Tim Longmeyer, a former Personnel Cabinet secretary and deputy attorney general under Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Andy Beshear, emerges on the screen. Longmeyer was sentenced to 70 months in prison last week for his role in a kickback scheme involving the Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan.

The spot then focuses on former Democratic Rep. John Arnold, who was found in violation of state ethics laws in 2014 after he sexually harassed three legislative staffers, in saying that viewers need “a state representative who stands for the people first and against abuse of power.”

“We need Denny Butler,” the narrator says. “Denny made his career as a law-and-order cop who knows how to protect and serve south Louisville, and now he’s cleaning up Frankfort. Let’s keep him there.”

The ad can be viewed here:

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has spent nearly $115,000 in advertising on the four Louisville broadcast stations from Monday through Nov. 8, which is Election Day, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission.

It’s unclear exactly which other races are targeted in the super PAC’s ad campaign, but filings by WYMT-TV in Hazard include the numbers 84, 91 and 94 alongside the initials KSL, an indication that the 84th, 91st and 94th House districts are in play for the group. Those ads are set to run Monday through Nov. 8.

Reps. Fitz Steele, D-Hazard, and Cluster Howard, D-Jackson, represent the first two districts, respectively, with the super PAC spending $24,880 on its “KSL 84 FINAL” estimate and $22,835 on its “KSL 91 FINAL” estimate.

The group’s “KSL FINAL 94” estimate from WYMT totals $25,415. Democratic Rep. Leslie Combs’ retirement opened the 94th House District seat that covers Letcher County and part of Pike.

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has also bought a week’s worth of advertising on Bowling Green’s WBKO-TV in the 23rd House District, vacated by the retirement of House Majority Whip Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow. The $6,660 buy began Monday and ends on Sunday, FCC filings show.

The super PAC has also reserved time on Lexington’s WKYT-TV and WLEX-TV, spending $17,775 and $17,350, respectively. Estimates for those filings also include the number 91, a sign that Howard’s district, which includes Breathitt, Lee, Owsley, Estill counties and part of Madison, may be the target of the late ad campaign that covers the final week of this year’s election cycle.

This isn’t the group’s first foray in the 2016 election season. The group released a Web ad featuring House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s post-election speech last year, in which he praised President Barack Obama’s values and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s impact on state House races.


Subscribe to email updates.

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