Murkowski to stations: Don't air tea party ad

The Associated Press
Monday, October 4, 2010; 10:35 PM

JUNEAU, Alaska -- U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski's campaign is warning Alaska broadcasters not to air ads by a national tea party group that the campaign says are "littered with lies and intentional mischaracterizations" about her and her write-in campaign.

Attorney Timothy McKeever, in a letter to broadcasters Monday, said they are under a "legal and moral obligation" not to air the new ads from Tea Party Express, which is supporting Joe Miller, the political upstart who defeated Murkowski in the August GOP primary.

A Tea Party Express spokesman said his initial reaction is that the group stands behind the ads.

At issue is an ad the group unveiled Monday, entitled "Arrogant Lisa Murkowski - You Lost!" It seeks to paint Murkowski as more interested in political self-preservation than in serving the interests of Alaskans. It also claims she didn't "earn" her Senate seat and that she "tried to manipulate the Libertarian party into giving her their slot" on the ballot - claims McKeever called "materially false."

Murkowski was appointed to the seat her father held when he became governor in 2002; she won it in her own right in 2004.

Murkowski has said friends - without her direction - approached the party to see what it would take for her name to appear as a Libertarian candidate and that she was not about to change her beliefs for political expediency.

Scott Kohlhaas, the Libertarian party's chairman, said he did have a "get-to-know-you" with Murkowski's then-campaign manager, John Bitney, who could not immediately be reached.

Libertarian leaders waited for Murkowski to ask for a ballot line but she never did, Kohlhaas said.

The party didn't feel manipulated by Murkowski, he said. "Tempted, another story," Kohlhaas said Monday. "But manipulated, no."

Tea Party Express also made claims about Murkowski's record during the primary that she called mischaracterizations or lies.

For example, it repeated the claim - which Miller also stated - that she opposed repealing the federal health care overhaul. Murkowski vehemently denied that and pointed to her record to back her up. Both Tea Party Express and Miller have stood behind the claim, and the campaigns they ran.

Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell said the group has tried to "put out the purest form of the truth." The ads unveiled for reporters Monday were finished over the weekend, and the group hoped to make ad buys that would have them on the air this week.

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