POLITICS
10/07/2014 02:35 pm ET Updated Oct 07, 2014

GOP Congressman's Campaign Ad Put Veterans Cemetery At Risk Of Losing Funding

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) was largely unapologetic after having to pull a campaign ad that was shot in a veterans cemetery against the facility's rules, insisting that the spot was "beautiful" and made with the "utmost respect" for veterans.

Cramer recently released a 30-second spot intended to highlight his support for the nation's veterans. But much of the ad was filmed at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, which bars political activity on its grounds. On Monday, Cramer told the site Watchdog.org that he would take the ad down.

Nevertheless, in an interview Monday afternoon on WDAY-AM 970 that was noted by Say Anything Blog, Cramer defended his ad, saying there was "nothing illegal about doing it." He explained that the campaign didn't reach out to anyone at the cemetery for permission to film there because it's "public land."

"Of course, it's not like we hid from it, as you can tell," said Cramer. "We had a 30-foot crane and a whole bunch of Patriot Riders and several other veterans who participated in the ad."

North Dakota National Guard spokeswoman Billie Jo Lorius told The Huffington Post Tuesday that while it's not illegal to film political ads at a veterans cemetery, what Cramer did put the cemetery's federal funding at risk. The Department of Veterans Affairs has strict rules against filming political ads in national cemeteries, and since the North Dakota cemetery receives VA funding, it also needs to abide by those rules.

"It's not illegal, but it's against the guidelines for us to be able to get funding federally," she said. "So that puts us in jeopardy of losing those funds if something like that is done. That is why we requested that they take down those ads."

Louris said National Guard staff called the Cramer campaign Monday and asked them to pull the ad; the campaign said it would comply. She said she believed the campaign took the ad down Tuesday morning, although the video still appears on Cramer's YouTube page. Cramer's campaign did not return a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

During his interview Monday afternoon, Cramer refused to promise not to film another campaign ad in a veterans cemetery: "You never know what you may or may not do. We did it with great respect and did not use the ad to attack anyone.”

Cramer also seemed to suggest that by ignoring the veterans cemetery's rules, he was upholding the legacy of the nation's veterans.

"Much of the cause our veterans fight for ... is of course the freedom of expression and political expression ... which has taken way too much of a hit in recent years and decades," he said.

Listen to Cramer's WDAY-AM 970 interview:

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