08/07/2012 10:12 pm ET Updated Aug 08, 2012

Josh Mandel, Ohio Tea Party-Backed Candidate For Senate, Releases 'Misleading' Ad

WASHINGTON -- Josh Mandel, the Tea Party-backed candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, released a television ad on Tuesday that touts his record as the state treasurer, using an award from an obscure conservative group as proof of his fiscal bona fides. There's just one problem: the award was given to him before he was actually treasurer.

The Mandel campaign ad says the 36-year-old Republican challenger to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was "named 'Watchdog of the Treasury' for strong fiscal performance." The accolade's name and the sequence in which it appears in the ad make it seem like Mandel received an honor for his record as treasurer. In fact, he was given it while he was a state representative.

"Unfortunately for Josh Mandel, when you don't show up for work, it's tough finding things to brag about," said Andrew Zucker, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, which has attacked Mandel for being an "absentee treasurer" while running for the Senate.

Zucker called the ad "misleading" and said the award given to Mandel by United Conservatives of Ohio is a "meaningless award" from a "practically defunct right-wing interest group." United Conservatives of Ohio is a "a group of such low standing that it doesn't even have a website," the Ohio Democratic Party said in an earlier press release.

The Mandel campaign confirmed to The Huffington Post that the award was given to him while he was still a state representative, but a spokesman denied the ad is misleading.

"Leave it to the tax-and-spend Ohio Democrats to criticize Josh about an award he earned for fiscal responsibility and protecting taxpayer money even before he was elected state treasurer," said Travis Considine, a spokesman for Mandel.

Recent polls show Brown with a substantial lead over Mandel for the November election.

CORRECTION: Quotes have been added to the headline to reflect that Andrew Zucker called Josh Mandel's ad "misleading."