The Willie Horton television ads, which helped give the 1988 presidential campaign a bad name, live on -- in the Ohio governor's race.
James Ruvolo, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, has announced plans to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission asking that it investigate connections between Roger Ailes, media adviser to the Bush campaign, and a political action committee that ran the Horton ads.
Ailes is now producing television spots for George Voinovich, the GOP candidate for governor of Ohio. Ruvolo said the apparent relationship between Ailes and the Horton ads "ought to give pause" to Voinovich supporters.
Horton is a convicted murderer who raped a Maryland woman and beat her boyfriend while he was on furlough from a Massachusetts prison under a program supported by Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, Bush's 1988 Democratic opponent.
The Bush campaign ran ads attacking the furlough program, but didn't picture or mention Horton in them. But two former Ailes employees produced commercials that pictured Horton, a black, for the National Security PAC and ran them as "independent expenditures" on cable television networks.
The group reported buying $576,000 in air time. Such expenditures are permitted under federal election law as long as there is no coordination between the campaign and the independent group.
Ruvolo said there is enough "circumstantial evidence" tying Ailes to the ads to warrant an FEC investigation. Some Democrats have tried to establish an Ailes-Horton ad link ever since the election.
Ailes, who is known as a master of negative advertising, said Ruvolo "is desperately trying to jump-start a stalled campaign for governor" by Democratic state Attorney General Anthony Cellebrezze Jr. Ailes said he has produced two commercials and one video for the Voinovich campaign, all of them positive.
A Voinovich headquarters aide said that Ruvolo's attack on Ailes was his third in the past year.