A Republican Senate candidate in Nebraska has been swiftly broadsided by a conservative nonprofit attacking him for how he represented his military service in what may be this election cycle's harshest ad to date.
The 60 Plus Association, which bills itself as "the nation's largest conservative seniors organization," announced the release Friday of a television ad criticizing former Nebraska state Treasurer Shane Osborn, who served in the Navy, for being "self-serving" and "dishonorable."
Watch the ad above.
The ad revolves around an unauthenticated Navy memo Osborn released. In March, the Omaha World-Herald reported that Osborn had distributed a memo on Navy letterhead praising his actions during the Hainan Incident in 2001, when Osborn was forced to land a plane he was flying over China after a collision with a Chinese Navy jet.
The paper found that the August 2013 memo had been written as a favor to Osborn by a friend working at the Pentagon.
The 60 Plus Association has endorsed Ben Sasse, the president of Midland University in Fremont. Sasse, Osborn and banker Sid Dinsdale are engaged in one of the country's most competitive Republican Senate primaries as they vie to succeed retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.).
In a Friday press release, 60 Plus Chairman Jim Martin explained the group's motivation behind airing the ad.
"On behalf of our more than 89,000 senior supporters in the great state of Nebraska, we are very troubled by Shane Osborn's actions with regard to this doctored Navy memo," Martin said in the release. "Nebraska seniors and their families need to know, above all else, that they can put their trust and faith into the elected representatives we send to Washington. Shane Osborn's attempt to deceive Nebraska voters is truly shameful, and raises serious questions about his integrity and his ability to be the honest, trustworthy Senator Nebraskans deserve."
Two veterans groups backing Osborn immediately condemned the ad, while Osborn's campaign manager, Bill Novotny, called the ad “disrespectful."
“Shane Osborn received Distinguish Flying Cross and the Meritorious Service Medal for his service to the United States,” Novotny said in a statement. “Ben Sasse is not a veteran, and has never risked his life for the sake of our great nation. Sasse and his Washington allies should be ashamed of themselves for attacking a decorated veteran for his military service. This latest attack on Shane’s record of service is disrespectful to every single American who has ever worn the uniform.”
The $250,000 buy begins Saturday and will run through May 12, according to Roll Call. Nebraska's primary is scheduled for May 13.
Sasse has also been endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks' PAC.