WASHINGTON – Rep. Doug Lamborn has gone to the airwaves to attack the business record of his opponent Robert Blaha, leveling the same charge of corruption that has been aimed at him.
Lamborn’s two 30-second ads began running Friday on KVOR radio and Saturday on broadcast TV in Colorado Springs and Fox News in the fifth congressional district.
One ad calls the Colorado Springs Republican a “proven conservative leader” and attacks Blaha, whose companies are alleged to have filed late business reports and whose bank received a low rating from and was fined by federal regulators.
The other ad accuses Blaha of serving as a director of a Nebraska business that the Internal Revenue Service leveled three tax liens worth more than $80,000 and director of a blank-check company that the American Stock Exchange Commission threatened to delist for failing to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Scandal, corruption – that’s the Blaha record,” the commercial’s male announcer says.
Blaha dismissed Lamborn’s charges as politically motivated. “Every single one of these charges – they are all half truths, innuendos, and lies,” he said in an interview.
Blaha noted the bank he co-founded, Integrity Bank & Trust, received a low mark at the height of the banking crisis two years ago; was not involved in the daily operations of the Nebraska based Tournament Gold/Attendeez, which offers event registration and meeting planning support to organizations; and the business that AMEX threatened to delist, the Alpha Security Group Corporation, no longer exists.
Blaha defended himself against Lamborn’s counter-offensive in an email yesterday, calling Integrity Bank “a respected partner in our community” that “never participated in federal bailout dollars,” characterizing Lamborn’s criticisms as an attempt to “divert attention away from his lack of results.”
Blaha began running radio commercials and a TV commercial last month that depict the three-term incumbent as a corrupt career politician. The ads blast Lamborn for requesting tens of millions of dollars from Congress that benefit political contributors, a process known as earmarking. “One $3,000 contributor got $1.6 million,” a female announcer says in a Blaha TV ad, then pausing to deliver her punch line. “Lamborn earmarks for Lamborn contributors: a sea of waste and corruption.”
Blaha announced his candidacy in December. After another Republican failed to qualify for the June primary, Blaha emerged as Lamborn’s rival for the GOP nomination. He released the results of an internal poll that showed the businessman within five percentage points of the incumbent.
Now Lamborn is hitting back. “Because Mr. Blaha doesn’t have a public-service record to run on, he has a business record that should be examined,” Lamborn communications director Catherine Mortensen said in an interview. “And it’s a record of scandal and corruption. We don’t need that in Washington.”
Lamborn’s attack ads suggest he views his opponent more seriously, according to Jessica Taylor, a senior analyst for the Rothenberg Political Report. “He’s doing this by the book. He’s facing a competitive challenger, a self funder, and he has had tough primary challengers in 2006 and 2008,” she said. “Lamborn must have seen some movement in the polls.”
While Lamborn likely views Blaha more seriously, the conservative Club for Growth has not decided to throw its weight behind the incumbent yet.
Barney Keller, a spokesman for the political action committee, said its non endorsement of Lamborn should not be construed as discontent with the incumbent, noting it endorses 15 to 25 congressional candidates each political cycle. “Doug Lamborn is a champion of economic freedom. His lifetime voting record of 100 percent from the Club for Growth speaks for itself,” he said. The group played an instrumental role in Lamborn’s first race for Congress, responsible for bundling $281,560 from its members to his campaign.
For his part, Blaha said he plans to release a public statement and launch the website TheRealRobertBlaha.com to refute Lamborn’s charges.