With the election for Kentucky's open U.S. Senate seat just weeks away, Democrat Jack Conway is out with a new campaign ad taking aim at Republican rival Rand Paul over controversy surrounding his affiliation with a secret society during his college years at Baylor University.
"Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called the Holy Bible 'a hoax' -- that was banned form mocking Christianity and Christ?" asks a narrator in the 30-second spot. "Why did Rand Paul once tie a woman up? Tell her to bow down before a false idol and say his God was 'Aqua Buddha?"
A profile on Paul published by GQ earlier in the election season first called attention to the Tea Party-backed hopeful's connection to the "NoZe Brotherhood." The following excerpt lends context to the questions raised by Conway's camp in the ad:
The strangest episode of Paul's time at Baylor occurred one afternoon in 1983 (although memories about all of these events are understandably a bit hazy, so the date might be slightly off), when he and a NoZe brother paid a visit to a female student who was one of Paul's teammates on the Baylor swim team. According to this woman, who requested anonymity because of her current job as a clinical psychologist, "He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They'd been smoking pot." After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek. "They told me their god was 'Aqua Buddha' and that I needed to bow down and worship him," the woman recalls. "They blindfolded me and made me bow down to 'Aqua Buddha' in the creek. I had to say, 'I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.' At Baylor, there were people actively going around trying to save you and we had to go to chapel, so worshiping idols was a big no-no."
Following the release of the profile, Paul was quick to come out and deny the jaw-dropping account.
"No, I never was I involved with kidnapping, no I was never involved with forcibly drugging people," he said during an appearance on Fox News. "Do we live in an era where people can come forward anonymously and accuse you of things and then all of a sudden I am supposed to spend the rest of the campaign defending myself against anonymous accusers who say I kidnapped them? The story just borders on ridiculous."
The alleged female victim at the center of the controversy ultimately came forward and said she was a willing participant in the seemingly strange activity. She told the Washington Post, "There was an implicit degree of cooperation in the whole thing. I felt like I was being hazed."
Last week, Politico released a report offering further insight into NoZe and what Paul's ties to the group could mean for his campaign:
Issues of the newsletter published by Paul's secret society, the NoZe Brotherhood, during his time at Baylor reveal a more specific political problem for the Kentucky Republican: The group's work often had a specifically anti-Christian tone, as it made fun of the Baptist college's faith-based orientation.
As for the new ad out from Conway aiming to capitalize on the controversy, Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton called the spot "shameful and despicable" and suggested the Democratic candidate "stepped way over the line" with the attack.