WASHINGTON -- The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has slightly revised one of its ads criticizing Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.), a candidate for Senate, after a TV station requested the change. The group will continue to air the revised ad statewide, however, despite the Berg campaign's contention that the entire spot should be taken down.
The ad attempts to link Berg to Goldmark Property Management Inc., a major real estate player in North Dakota, and tie him to the complaints that have been lodged against the firm.
"Rick Berg claims he's had nothing to do with a property management firm that ignored fire codes and hounded tenants," the narrator said in the original DSCC ad. "The facts: Berg not only helped start the company, he served as its spokesman. The company was even listed as Berg’s employer on his real estate license and on federal forms."
Berg is locked in a tight race against Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, and both sides are hopeful that they can win the seat.
On Monday evening, Berg's campaign sent out a press release announcing that two TV stations in the state -- Valley News Live and WDAY -- said "they would pull the ad because it contains false, misleading or deceptive advertising." Berg spokesman Chris Van Guilder said the move by the networks affirmed that "the ad attacking Rick’s business background is untrue and inaccurate."
Jim Wareham, the president and general manager of Valley News Live, confirmed to the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead that his station was taking down the ad until a revised version was submitted by the DSCC.
Wareham's concern centered around the ad's claim about the congressman's real estate license, after an attorney said there was some merit to complaints lodged by the Berg campaign.
The DSCC released a revised version of its ad on Tuesday afternoon, after a request from Valley News Live. The line "The company was even listed as Berg’s employer on his real estate license and on federal forms" was changed to "The company was even on Berg's real estate license and was listed as his employer on federal forms."
While Valley News Live confirmed that it wanted changes to the ad, it's unclear whether the original version was ever actually pulled from WDAY, as the Berg campaign claimed. The DSCC contends that it wasn't, arguing Republicans were trying to score an outsized victory.
Indeed, on Tuesday morning, both Valley News Live and WDAY aired the original ad. On Valley News Live, it aired at 5:44 a.m. and 8:50 a.m., which Wareham told The Huffington Post was an accident. WDAY aired it at 5:40 a.m. and 7:42 a.m. A representative at the station did not return a request for comment on whether they requested a change to the ad or said they would pull it.
Getting the ad revised was a small victory for the Berg campaign, and National Republican Senatorial Campaign Communications Director Brian Walsh said on Twitter the fact that it had happened showed the DSCC's spot was clearly "false."
The DSCC, meanwhile, argued that Republicans had overstated what had happened, since the change the station requested was minor and the new ad -- which still goes after Berg's Goldmark ties -- will still be running.
“For five days, Rick Berg tried to hide the facts from North Dakotans about his long and deep ties to Goldmark Property Management," said DSCC spokesman Matt Canter. "But the facts are undeniable and it is time Rick Berg is honest about his long history with Goldmark."
The Berg campaign stands by its assertion that the ad is inaccurate.
"Heidi Heitkamp and President Obama's allies that are supporting her campaign continue to falsely attack Rick Berg in [an] attempt to distract voters from Heitkamp's record of supporting Obama's failed policies such as Obamacare," said Van Guilder. "The North Dakota Secretary of State's office has confirmed that Heitkamp and the Democrats have requested and received copies of the official ownership forms, yet they have chosen to ignore the facts and have still failed to provide any legal documentation to back up their false attacks narrative."
Goldmark properties have been cited for violating fire codes and sued for withholding safety deposits. According to The Hill, Berg has claimed that he founded the precursor to Goldmark, but left the company seven years before it changed its name and had nothing to do with the violations.
Democrats, meanwhile, point out that Berg has been named in media reports as the company's spokesman and listed the group as his employer, as the DSCC highlighted in its ad.
Watch the new ad:
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