The attacks on Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake’s voting record on veterans issues are continuing with a new TV ad paid for by a national veterans organization.
The scathing, 30-second spot features a young veteran of the Iraq war who says, “Congressman Jeff Flake voted to send us to that war and then voted against us when we came home.”
The ad from VoteVets.org Action Fund — which paid $164,850 to produce and air the TV ad — comes on the heels of a separate TV ad paid for by the Richard Carmona campaign leveling the same charge. The ad points to five bills Flake has voted against during his 12-year tenure in the U.S. House.
Flake vehemently denies the notion that he is anti-veteran, pointing out 80 veterans bills he’s voted for during his 12 years in Congress. He said members of Congress regularly vote on more than 1,000 bills a year, and that any challenger can cherry-pick votes to misconstrue somebody’s record.
During this week’s editorial board with the Arizona Daily Star, Flake told Carmona his ad was “deplorable.”
Flake said veterans is a popular title for bills put forth in Congress that are loaded with other “extraneous” things.
“If anybody says ‘I’m going to vote for every bill with veteran anywhere in the title or anywhere in the substance;’ that’s not the kind of representation you want because you will fall for anything,” Flake said.
“To put disabled veterans on television and insinuate that I”m somehow opposed to their funding or their care — that’s deplorable,” Flake said.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a decorated Navy vet before he retired and ran for office, came to Flake’s defense this week, too, calling out Carmona for a ‘false and negative’ attack on Flake. McCain, who has formally endorsed Flake, said that he’s seen first hand Flake’s commitment to veterans issues over his 12 years in Congress.
"All I did was look at your record on votes with veterans and you said no," Carmona said in the editorial board in response to Flake's comments.
The independent expenditure from the veterans group is the first money spent by PACs on behalf of Carmona in this race.
These outside political groups have spent nearly $281,000 to run TV and web ads and send mailers in support of Flake, with most of it coming from Freedomworks for America, which has paid $246,000 for online ads, signs and general support. Here’s a link to the group's 15-second ad, which calls Flake a “proven leader” in Congress while highlighting endorsements from U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, Rep. Paul Ryan, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Jim DeMint.
At the beginning of the general election campaign, Carmona asked Flake to sign a pledge banning outside groups that don’t have to reveal their donors from spending money on TV and radio ads.
“Some of you may have seen a new ad airing today from an outside group attacking Congressman Flake,” Carmona posted on Facebook Thursday. “I hope Congressman Flake remembers that I called for a pledge to keep outside groups out of Arizona. Congressman Flake turned me down.”
Stay tuned to the Pueblo Politics blog throughout 2012 for news, updates and information about Arizona politics. You can follow Arizona Daily Star reporters Brady McCombs, Becky Pallack and Tim Steller on Twitter.