Murkowski says he wants attack ads stopped

Posted: Wednesday, July 03, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski said that he wants an Outside group running ads attacking the Knowles-Ulmer administration to end the television spots.

''I'd like to see them stopped,'' Murkowski said Tuesday, referring to the issue advertisements by the Virginia-based Americans for Job Security attacking the economic record of Gov. Tony Knowles and Murkowski's leading opponent in the gubernatorial race, Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer.

''I've never seen the ads. I've never had contact with any of them,'' Murkowski said. ''This situation we have where people are free to spend their money in different manners, whether it be (Americans for Job Security) or the League of Conservation Voters. This is just a reality that we live under. And yeah, I'm not wild about it, but it's here,'' he said.

Murkowski's campaign spokesman, Dan Saddler, would not comment on whether the senator or his campaign staff have contacted the group behind the advertisements.

Messages left with Americans for Job Security were not returned Tuesday.

The ads from the pro-business, anti-tax association began airing in late May. Several different television and radio spots have aired across Alaska, but the theme has been the same: The economy has not fared well under the Democrat Knowles/Ulmer administration.

Such so-called ''soft money'' ads take positions on issues but avoid support or opposition of a candidate. These kinds of ads have appeared in Alaska before, especially on ballot propositions. But the series of advertisements from Americans for Job Security may be the first time Outside money has pushed such a strong advertising campaign during a governor's race.

Last month, Ulmer called on Murkowski to agree to oppose Outside money in the campaign. At the time Murkowski called the pledge ''a pointless gesture.''

In April, Murkowski's campaign staff supplied Americans for Job Security with Alaska economic data. Also, the group's leaders consulted with two men who have political ties to Murkowski, Republican consultant Eddie Mahe and former ambassador and Alaska state commerce commissioner Tony Motley.

Murkowski and his campaign staff disclaim any connection with the ads.

''We spend an awful lot of time shooting the messenger rather than picking up the message. Is the message accurate? I think it is accurate,'' the senator said.

Murkowski's own campaign message, which has emphasized Alaska's slow economic growth and young people leaving the state, echoes that of the advertisements.

''I think it just happens to be a fact,'' Murkowski said of the similarities between his campaign themes and the advertisements.

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