Arizona Republican's Opponents Question Ties To Outside Group

05/06/2014 11:57 am ET | Updated May 06, 2014
  • Andrew Perez National Political Reporter for International Business Times
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- A political committee backing Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey in the Republican gubernatorial primary released an advertisement last week featuring video from his campaign launch event, and some of Ducey's opponents are crying foul.

Two of Ducey's Republican rivals said their campaigns were prohibited from filming at the campaign event, but Conservative Leadership for Arizona, an independent expenditure committee supporting Ducey, managed to obtain footage from it that had not been made public.

It's become common for campaigns to release b-roll video for super PACs and political nonprofits to use in their ads, while circumventing laws banning coordination between the groups and campaigns. Similar laws prohibit state-level political committees, such as Conservative Leadership for Arizona, from coordinating with campaigns. Yet, the committee appears to have used unreleased footage of Ducey mingling with attendees at the event.

A spokesman for Ducey opponent Scott Smith (R), the former mayor of Mesa, Arizona, told The Huffington Post that his campaign sent a staffer and a camera crew to the announcement speech, but they were told to leave. An intern for businesswoman Christine Jones' gubernatorial campaign wasn't permitted to film the event, either, according to a spokeswoman.

"Already we've seen that Doug Ducey's pals will play fast and loose with election law, spending enormous sums of money on Ducey's behalf while hiding behind anonymity or some narrow contortion of what's legal," said Smith's campaign in a statement Monday.

"The rollout was open to the media," Melissa DeLaney, a spokeswoman for Ducey, said in an interview. "If someone was recognized as a tracker, or suspected to be one, we asked for their credentials. If they were unable to produce them, we asked them to leave, which is how most campaigns and nonprofits across the country handle their open-press events."

Conservative Leadership for Arizona's chairwoman, Amanda Reeve, told HuffPost that she attended Ducey's kickoff event but did not have a role with the committee then, as it had not yet been created. She said she did not believe the group had any cameras at the event for the same reason.

Instead, Conservative Leadership for Arizona purchased the footage from Smart Media Group, a third-party vendor based in Alexandria, Virginia, that captured the video, according to Reeve. She explained, "They go to a lot of public events and take footage of a lot of public events, and offer it up for these kind of ordeals."

Records with the Federal Communications Commission show that Smart Media Group recently purchased spots with TV stations in Phoenix for a nonprofit attacking one of Ducey's opponents.

A column in The Arizona Republic last month raised questions about Ducey's ties to the nonprofit, the Legacy Foundation Action Fund, which doesn't have to disclose its donors.

The Legacy Foundation spent at least $275,000 last month on advertisements attacking Ducey opponent Smith as President Barack Obama's "favorite mayor," according to the paper.

Ducey's media consultant, Larry McCarthy, produced an advertisement earlier this year for the Legacy Foundation to influence a Republican Senate primary in Nebraska, National Review reported.

McCarthy, who created the infamous "Willie Horton" ad in the 1988 presidential election, has said his firm hasn't handled any work for the Legacy Foundation in Arizona.

"Our firm did one ad for the Legacy Foundation, one time, in Nebraska and that's it," McCarthy said last month, according to The Arizona Republic. "We had nothing to do with the ad currently running in Arizona."

Smart Media Group did not respond to a request for comment. DeLaney said she isn't familiar with the firm but said that it's "possible" it was at Ducey's event.

"I've never heard of 'Smart Media,'" DeLaney said. "There were lots of cameras there. We were not actively checking them in or verifying credentials. So, it's possible, but I've never heard of them, and I don't know who they are."

Ducey, Smith and Jones are running in the crowded Aug. 26 Republican primary to succeed Gov. Jan Brewer (R).

Watch the advertisement from Conservative Leadership for Arizona below:

This article was edited to reflect that the footage in question was not "exclusive," as there were other cameras at the event.

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