U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall says two racially-tinged attack ads being run in his district by his GOP opponent and an outside group are a coordinated effort.
The latest television spot by his challenger, Elliott "Spike" Maynard, attempts to tie Rahall to a man the narrator describes as a "convicted terrorist."
The ad, which asks, "Who supports Rahall?" shows footage of Abdurahman Alamoudi, the founder of the American Muslim Council, who was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2004 for illegal dealings with Libya which included involvement in a plot to kill the Saudi ruler. The ad cites a contribution Alamoudi made to Rahall in 1996.
What Maynard's ad doesn't tell you is that Alamoudi contributed to campaigns on both sides of the aisle, including George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton, and that he was a donor to the National Republican Congressional Committee. When Alamoudi's illegal activities became known, Rahall's campaign gave the $600 donation to a church in Beckley, W.Va. Bush and Clinton retuned the donations.
"The [campaign] donation was made a full 8 years before any charges were made against the particular individual," Rahall said in a Wednesday interview. "When the first hint of trouble with him came up, I gave the money to the Memorial Baptist Chruch charity in my hometown. It was not until after that donation to charity was made that he was convicted."
The National Republican Congressional Committee, however, kept the $300 Alamoudi contributed to the group in 2002.
Maynard was named a "Young Gun" by the NRSC and advanced to the fundraising program's top tier earlier this year.
Another ad, produced by the West Virginia Conservative Foundation, has generated controversy in Rahall's district. The spot, which attacks Rahall for his support of President Barack Obama and Arab -American groups has been viewed by many as a thinly-veiled attack on the congressman's background. Rahall is the grandson of Lebanese immigrants.
WVCF was founded by current West Virginia Republican Party chairman Mike Stuart. As reported by Amanda Terkel, Stuart claimed he resigned from WVCF on July 24 upon becoming GOP head.
Stuart's bio on the state GOP website listed him as the group's president as of Oct. 3.
Stuart has attempted to distance himself from the ad and claimed that he had no knowledge of Rahall's ancestry before the controversy. Stuart has not asked WVCF to stop airing the spot.
Rahall points out that Maynard, whose campaign has claimed no involvement with the WVCF spot, has not called for the ad to be withdrawn and believes the two ads may be linked.
"It was clear that there was a coordination, because [the WVCF spot] was a softening ad, and then they came on with this latest one, which he does say he paid for. Kudos to them for taking credit for that one;" Rahall said. "Both of these are so despicably disappointing ... that such attacks are made."
Rahall also raised the issue of possible involvement from Massey CEO Don Blankenship.
"This is characteristic of the method of operation of Don Blankenship, which to instill fear as he has so many of his employees."
Maynard lost his seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court in the 2008 Democratic primary, after photos emerged showing the justice on vacation with the Massey CEO. The company was appealing a verdict to Maynard's court at the time.
Blankenship and Massey officials are among the contributors to Maynard's campaign. Blankenship's former political aide, Roman Stauffer, previously worked for WVCF and was the recipient of e-mails sent through the website's contact form as of Oct. 3.Rahall's latest ads have focused on the relationship between Maynard and Blankenship:
The latest poll in the race, taken Sept. 27-29 be Anzalone Research showed Rahall leading Maynard, 59 percent to 34 percent.