VoteVets Action Fund released a new television spot targeting former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford on Monday, adding to the Democratic onslaught against the Republican nominee, just two weeks before the special election in the state's 1st Congressional District.
While recent ads by other Democratic groups have focused on ethics violations against Sanford during his time as governor, the organization with ties to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid centers on Sanford's six-day absence from the state in its 30-second spot, accusing him of a dereliction of duty. Sanford later revealed that he was in Argentina at the time, where he had been carrying on an affair with Maria Belen Chapur, who is now his fiancée.
"If I had abandoned my post, I could be court-martialed," retired National Guard Colonel Barry Wingard, a district resident says in the ad. "It really hurt me, and I think it betrayed all of South Carolina and all of the citizens."
The ad, like others by House Majority PAC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, accuses Sanford of violating voters' trust, alluding to the affair that nearly cost him his political career without mentioning it overtly. However, the VoteVets spot is backed by just $30,000, meaning it will have far less saturation than the House Majority PAC and DCCC spots, which are currently backed by about $107,000 and $218,000, respectively. Those groups and Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the Democratic nominee, were already outspending Sanford more than three-to-one in the district.
Sanford's campaign dropped just under $100,000 on his own spot attacking Colbert Busch last week.
The VoteVets ad will run on cable and broadcast through the end of the week, as Sanford makes his return to the campaign trail after nearly a week-long absence. Sanford has not held a public event since the Associated Press reported last Tuesday that his ex-wife had accused him of trespassing on her property on Feb. 3, just three weeks after announcing a bid for his old seat in Congress. Since then, the National Republican Congressional Committee and several other conservative groups have announced that they will not lend support to Sanford's campaign.
Sanford's campaign also cancelled a planned D.C. fundraiser next week with several members of Congress slated to attend, including GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham. Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said the campaign called off the event so that the former governor could spend more time in the district campaigning. A spokesman for Graham said that Sanford still has the senator's full support.
Instead, Sanford will hold 15 events in the district this week, beginning Monday. He has challenged Colbert Busch to join him at as many as possible, complaining that she hasn't made herself available for debates and other joint events. The two will meet at their first, and likely only, debate on April 29. The special election is on May 7.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story referrred to VoteVets Action Fund as a "super PAC." It is actually a 501(c)(4) organization.
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