EVANSVILLE, Ind. – An embattled Indiana congressman has launched a new campaign ad that warns a vote for his Democratic opponent could trigger a shift in House leadership and advance a "homosexual agenda."
In the one-minute radio ad paid for by Friends of Rep. John Hostettler, an announcer impersonating Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" character says a vote for challenger Brad Ellsworth would be a vote for California Democrat Nancy Pelosi as House speaker.
"Pelosi will then put in motion her radical plan to advance the homosexual agenda, led by Barney Frank, reprimanded by the House after paying for sex with a man who ran a gay brothel out of Congressman Frank's home," the narrator says.
Frank, D-Mass., became the first member of Congress to voluntarily make his homosexuality public in 1987.
In 1989, a gay prostitute and former companion of Frank's named Stephen Gobie alleged Frank knew that he ran a gay prostitution ring out of the congressman's Washington, D.C., apartment.
The House Ethics Committee rejected Gobie's charges as untrue in 1990. They did find that Frank fixed parking tickets accumulated by Gobie, and wrote a misleading memo for him. The House issued a public reprimand to Frank for those issues.
The ad, which debuted Saturday across southwestern Indiana, also accuses Ellsworth of wanting to "give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens with Detroit liberal John Conyers, and raise taxes with New York liberal Charlie Rangel."
"I know what you're thinking," the narrator says. "Is this true? Well, do you feel lucky? Go ahead, vote for Brad Ellsworth. Make Nancy Pelosi's day."
Ellsworth's campaign called the ad sensational and false.
"This race is not about Nancy Pelosi or San Francisco," spokesman Matt Weisman said. "What it's about is who's going to do the best job of representing the 8th District, who's going to listen to people."
Democrats need just 15 seats to regain control of the House, and Hostettler, a Christian fundamentalist, has been labeled one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents in the nation.
Hostettler has never received more than 53 percent of the vote in six elections, and the district's voters are notoriously fickle. In four successive elections in the 1970s, they elected four different congressmen. Polls show him trailing Ellsworth, the Vanderburgh County sheriff, and his infrequent campaign appearances have prompted many to question whether Hostettler has resigned himself to a loss on Nov. 7.
"Eighth district voters are concerned about the homosexual agenda," Hostettler told The Associated Press Tuesday. "Brad Ellsworth himself has said that he is in favor of granting benefits to same-sex couples that are now reserved for heterosexual married couples."
Hostettler has frequently taken unpopular stances on immigration, gun control and abortion. In 2004, he drafted the Marriage Protection Act, designed to prevent federal courts from ordering states to recognize same-sex marriages permitted in other states.