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After Back and Forth, Anti-McConnell Ad Airs

A television ad that criticizes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R) ties to a lobbyist who previously served as his chief of staff was expected to finally air during the NFL’s Monday Night Football game on ESPN even though Kentucky’s largest cable television operator originally had decided to pull the commercial last week.

After the National Republican Senatorial Committee complained that the ad distorted the facts, Insight Communications Inc. decided not to show the ad during the University of Louisville football game on ESPN2 on Thursday.

But after the Public Campaign Action Fund, which produced the ad, protested that the cable company was practicing “political censorship that squashes freedom of speech,” Insight Communications reversed its decision Friday.

The decade-old group, which promotes campaign finance reform, is one of several that is running ads in Kentucky that target McConnell, who is up for re-election in 2008.

The new ad claims McConnell helped steer $8.3 million to a nonprofit group, which was being represented by his former chief of staff, Hunter Bates, after Bates helped raise $120,000 in campaign contributions for McConnell.

“We’re obviously disappointed in the decision,” NRSC spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher said Monday. “We still believe the ad is deceptive and we still believe that [the cable company’s] first decision was correct. And we will be talking to Sen. McConnell’s campaign lawyers to see if we can pursue any further options.”

— John McArdle

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