WASHINGTON -- The board of directors of YWCA Cass Clay, a nonprofit group backing women, has asked North Dakota Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rick Berg's campaign to remove a television ad that the group said may be interpreted as a YWCA endorsement.
The request comes one day after Karl Rove-backed advocacy group Crossroads GPS pulled a TV ad attacking Berg's Democratic opponent, Heidi Heitkamp, with a false claim.
Berg's campaign ad, titled "Make A Difference" and released on Wednesday, features ex-YWCA board chairwoman Tammy Miller giving a testimonial for Berg, a congressman on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. The ad focuses on Berg's help in securing millions of dollars toward a new YWCA rescue shelter for women and children in Fargo-Moorhead.
“When we first met with Rick, we thought we would just ask for a financial contribution,” Miller says in the ad. “That’s what we were expecting. Rick so strongly believed in the mission and wanted to do more.”
A Grand Forks Herald report said an online version of the ad was posted with a disclaimer that Berg had received no endorsement from the YWCA. The actual video did not include the disclaimer.
"This advertisement is being perceived as a YWCA endorsement of the Rick Berg campaign,” the YWCA said in a statement. “As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the YWCA Cass Clay did not, cannot and will not endorse, support or engage in political campaigns or elections.”
Alison Kelly, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party, released the following statement:
"Rick Berg is trying to hide his long history of toeing the party line at the expense of North Dakota's women, even voting to allow insurance companies to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence. North Dakotans won't forget that Rick Berg voted with his party leaders and against the bipartisan Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act in Washington, leaving VAWA another victim to Washington's partisan gridlock."
Berg's office did not immediately return a request for comment. The campaign has since removed the ad from its YouTube page.