U.S. Sen. Mark Begich said on Thursday afternoon that he stands by an ad his campaign produced and will continue to use it, even as U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s lawyer issued a cease and desist order, calling it “patently false.”
The ad features Skip Nelson, who claims to be a lifelong Republican who supports both Begich and Murkowski who vote as much as “80 percent of the time together.” Some of Nelson’s claims have been called into question.
“It’s a factual ad and I’ll continue to use it,” Begich said.
Questions about the ad were asked at a press conference in Anchorage that was largely focused on the U.S. Air Force announcement that it selected Eielson Air Force Base as the preferred location for squadrons of F-35 fighter aircraft in the Pacific. If it happens, it would be a large boost to Fairbanks’ economy and will likely be a boost to Begich’s campaign.
Murkowski’s lawyer’s cease and desist order was sent to the media shortly before the announcement.
“You can tell it’s a political season,” Begich said at the press conference when reporters began questioning him about the ad.
In the ad, Nelson establishes his Republican bonafides by saying that he voted for Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski. Nat Hertz of the Alaska Dispatch News reported that Nelson is registered as an independent since at least 2000, and did not vote in 2010. Nelson told the paper that he attended several Murkowski fundraisers. Murkowski’s lawyer said that there are no records of Nelson donating to the campaign.
Begich’s campaign said that Nelson never said what year he voted for Murkowski and did so not in 2010, but in 2004. The campaign also said that you can consider yourself a Republican and not be registered as one.
As to the claim that the two vote together 80 percent of the time: that’s stretching it some, but is ultimately true. In 2014, the two have voted 80 percent of the time, though nearly all the votes this year have been procedural. All told since they’re been serving together, the two vote in common about 60 percent of the time.
Murkowski’s lawyer also questions the use of a photo Begich’s campaign used of the two in the Senate office building. Begich’s campaign said it got the photo from the Associated Press.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org