RGA group launches TV ads for David Williams, website against Steve Beshear

07/11/2011 02:23 PM

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) has started running ads in support of Republican Senate President David Williams, who is running against Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear in the fall.

The RGA has set up an unauthorized campaign committee in Kentucky called Bluegrass Prosperity.

Through that group, the RGA is launching TV ads, a new website at besheared.com and a Facebook group called Bluegrass Prosperity, which has no fans at this point.

By running ads and making expenditures through its Bluegrass Prosperity group, the RGA can use its national funds to run ads in the governor’s race.

That is different from a normal Kentucky-only unauthorized campaign committee, which would have to abide by Kentucky election finance laws and would require a group to start from the beginning financially. It would also limit the group to Kentucky’s $1,000 per person maximum donation requirement.

Because of a ruling from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, the RGA’s group doesn’t have to worry about starting over or be limited in the size of donations it can take in.

Bluegrass Prosperity is using the RGA’s Washington D.C. offices as its official address. In its registration papers with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, it lists Michael Adams, the RGA’s counsel and deputy executive director as treasurer and Phillip Cox, the RGA’s executive director, as chair of Bluegrass Prosperity.

The groups lists Forcht Bank, owned by frequent Republican donor Terry Forcht, as its primary depository.

The first ad started running today in the Lexington market, according to public ad files at CBS affiliate WKYT. It will run until July 17 and cost $15,605 according to the file. The ad will start running on cable in the Northern Kentucky markets starting Wednesday through July 24, for $8,556 according to public ad files with Insight Communications, the parent company of cn|2.

The ad uses images of a coal hopper to represent the state of Kentucky. It started by saying Kentucky is moving “in the wrong direction.”

It notes high unemployment and job loss, and says Kentucky “needs a new direction,” and points to Williams as that new direction. The ad says Williams has “fought Frankfort’s wasteful spending” while using images of Williams and his wife, Robyn.

The new website, run under Bluegrass Prosperity, takes a similar message. It cites job losses and high unemployment as problems plaguing Kentucky. While the TV ad doesn’t mention Beshear directly, the website clearly does. The governor’s face appears all over the website. Even the name, obviously, is a reference to Beshear.

The group also has a YouTube page, called Bluegrass Prosperity.

Questions for the RGA weren’t answered by press time.

UPDATE: In response to the ad, the Kentucky Democratic Party sent out a news release with a list of items Williams and his running mate, Richie Farmer, had spent for themselves on the taxpayers dime.

“Kentucky taxpayers have watched for years as David Williams treated himself to the good life on their dime, including a $17,000 TV and over a million dollars on office renovations,” KDP chair Dan Logsdon said in a statement. “No television ad can erase David Williams’ shameful past of out of control spending.”

Shortly after the KDP’s release, Beshear’s re-election campaign sent out a fund-raising e-mail to supporters, asking for them to allow Beshear to stay on TV while the RGA ads were running.

The Beshear campaign said the ad was “misleading” as well.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston

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