By J. STEVEN DILLON
Political ads concerning the 83rd House District race will continue to run on two Findlay Publishing Co. radio stations despite a request this week by the American Conservative Union for the ads to be pulled.
The ACU, a conservative lobbying group, asked Findlay radio stations WFIN and WKXA to stop airing ads that attack Jon Cross, a candidate in the Republican primary for the 83rd District seat in the Ohio House.
The ads were placed by the Conservative Alliance Political Action Committee (CaPAC).
Other radio stations also have been running CaPAC ads, including WINT AM/FM in Willoughby, a suburb of Cleveland. The ACU tried to halt the CaPAC ads this week by claiming that a federal disclosure document filed by WINT, regarding a radio ad from CaPAC, contained “false and misleading” information.
The document, which is required to be filled out by stations that accept political advertising, listed the names of five people, four of whom are members of the board of ACU, including ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp.
Only one of the people listed, Chris Marston, is associated with CaPAC.
The document error prompted a “cease and desist” letter to Findlay Publishing from the ACU, which Cross posted Thursday on Facebook. He also renewed his personal request that the CaPAC ads be pulled.
In the Facebook post, Cross also called on his opponent in the May 8 primary election, Cheryl Buckland of Findlay, “to once again immediately denounce this fraudulent Conservative Alliance PAC.”
Dave Glass, director of broadcast for WFIN and WKXA, said Friday that Blanchard River Broadcasting, which is part of Findlay Publishing Co., has no affiliation with the Willoughby radio station, and noted that the disclosure forms for both WFIN and WKXA do not contain the names of those associated with the ACU.
Because of that, he said, the two Findlay-based radio stations have continued to run the ads. Similar ads are also running at a Kenton radio station.
“We have no position in the 83rd District race,” Glass said. “But we can confirm our forms are in order.” Glass said the forms are viewable on both the Federal Communications Commission website and the radio stations’ websites.
The latest advertising controversy appears to have started with a clerical error.
Carl White, a consultant for WINT, said Friday that information from the Conservative Political Action Conference (C-PAC) which is affiliated with the ACU, was accidentally reported on the WINT form. He suggested the similarity of “C-PAC” and “CaPAC” may have contributed to the error.
“It was human error,” White said. “It was no big conspiracy. The question I’d like answered is how our form ended up being attached to a letter sent to the stations in Findlay. How did that happen?”
When contacted Friday, Cross said he continues to denounce the ads because they are misleading, but credits the ACU, which bills itself as the “nation’s oldest conservative grassroots organization,” for calling out a “potentially fraudulent PAC” that may have lied or misled people about its board of directors.
Cross said the ACU was likely just protecting itself by requesting the ads be pulled. He noted that the ACU pointed out in its letter that the organization was not opposing him, and that the ads are misleading the public.
Cross said the ads and PAC activity have been a distraction in the Ohio House race, and are confusing to many people, but that he will continue to run a positive campaign.
“This has not been the kind of race that people in the 83rd House District are used to,” he said Friday. “The public believes they are being scammed.”
Buckland, in response to Cross’ call for her to denounce the Conservative Alliance PAC, instead distanced herself from political action committees.
“As I have previously stated in public debates, I did not invite, I do not condone, and I have not encouraged the involvement of any outside PACs in my campaign for state representative,” she said.
Buckland said she wished to put the subject of PACs to rest.
“Constituents have observed the way my two successful prior campaigns for Republican State Central Committee Woman were conducted. Voters rightfully expect me to remain the ethical, honest and transparent public servant they have previously brought to office on their behalf.”
Buckland added: “Mr. Cross is much more knowledgeable than I about the workings of PACs due to the fact that from May 6, 2011, through at least Nov. 22, 2013, he served as the executive director of the San Diego New Majority PAC. The San Diego New Majority PAC was one of the largest Republican PACs in California at that time.”
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