SACRAMENTO (AP) — The Democratic candidate for California attorney general asked television stations Monday to stop airing negative advertising by an influential national Republican organization funded by business interests.
The infusion of more than $1 million for the ad from the Republican State Leadership Committee chaired by former Bush White House counselor Ed Gillespie was the latest illustration of the national importance of the race for California’s top law enforcement officer.
President Barack Obama last week attended a fundraising event for candidate Kamala Harris, who supported Obama’s 2008 campaign.
The conservative group, funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tobacco, insurance and medical companies, hopes to help elect Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley to the state’s top law enforcement job.
He is opposed by Harris, who is San Francisco’s district attorney. Her campaign officials contend the Alexandria, Va.-based, Republican committee failed to properly disclose who is behind the ad running in the Los Angeles television market.
The California Fair Political Practices Commission is being asked to order the committee to detail in the ad who is paying for it. Roman Porter, executive director of the commission, said it would review the complaint.
Cooley is being asked to denounce the ad.
The 30-second ad accuses Harris of being reluctant to seek the death penalty and features a video clip from the mother of slain San Francisco police Officer Isaac Espinoza.
Harris declined to seek the execution of Espinoza’s killer in 2004, and he is now serving a life term. Harris has repeatedly said she, like current Attorney General Jerry Brown, would enforce the law on capital punishment if she is elected attorney general.
Cooley spokesman Kevin Spillane said Harris is attempting to distract voters from her record of opposing the death penalty.
Adam Temple, spokesman for the committee, said the ad was reported properly to California campaign officials because it deals with an issue and is not an independent expenditure for Cooley.
“We think that voters should be well aware of Harris’ views on certain issues. There is a clear disconnect between some of those she’s taken and what Californians believe,” Temple said.
The committee, founded in 2002, describes itself as the only national organization dedicated to influencing down-ticket races such as attorney general, lieutenant governor and state legislators.
It says its goals are to reform the tax code, legal, health care and school systems, and to promote public safety.
It has drawn attention this year for its substantial financial contributions to legislative campaigns in Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
Temple said the committee has 100,000 donors from across the nation.
Its top donors are the U.S. chamber, American Justice Partnership, which promotes limits on lawsuit damage claims, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and tobacco companies Reynolds American and Altria Group, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
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