Ad hits Mo. GOP Senate pick on children's issues

A children's centered political group that ran ads four years ago against candidates in Pennsylvania and Arizona now is targeting Missouri's Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Roy Blunt.

The Vote Kids Action Fund said it began running TV ads Tuesday in the St. Louis area criticizing Blunt's congressional voting record on issues affecting children.

Blunt's Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, also began airing a new ad Tuesday attempting to link Blunt to a bribery scandal that took down U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif. Blunt's campaign dismissed the ad as an "outrageous false assertion."

Vote Kids has sporadically interjected itself into campaigns during the past decade. It last ran ads in 2006 targeting Republican Sen. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania and GOP Rep. J.D. Hayworth in Arizona. Both lost their re-election bids.

Blunt, a southwest Missouri congressman seeking to replace retiring GOP Sen. Kit Bond, is the group's only planned target in the Nov. 2 elections, said Vote Kids president Michael Petit. He declined to reveal the group's donors. Petit said the initial ad buy is for $25,000 for five days in the St. Louis market.

The ad references Blunt's votes against expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program and the Head Start early childhood program, among other things.

Carnahan's latest ad continues her theme of casting Blunt as corrupt. It notes that Blunt's political action committee, Rely on Your Beliefs, received $13,000 from entities connected to a California company eight days after the House passed a defense appropriations bill in October 2002 that contained a $1 million earmark for the company.

Later, "the chief executive is convicted of bribing another congressman, but Blunt uses congressional immunity to avoid testifying," Carnahan's ad says.

The company at issue was PerfectWave Technologies, whose owners included Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor who was convicted in November 2007 of bribing Cunningham.

The timing of the political contributions to Blunt's committee "would certainly suggest that he had something to do with this earmark," said Carnahan spokesman Linden Zakula.

Blunt's campaign spokesman, Rich Chrismer, said Blunt was not responsible for the company's earmark. He said it was secured by former Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., who has acknowledged steering $37 million to the company over several years.

Blunt, Doolittle and 11 other members of Congress, including Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., were subpoenaed by Wilkes' attorneys to testify in his trial. The lawmakers declined to comply on the advise of House attorneys. Blunt's campaign said Tuesday that the subpoenas were a "publicity stunt."

Blunt's campaign noted the defense appropriations bill overwhelmingly passed both the House and Senate, with the support of Carnahan's mother, then-Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo.

"With every outrageous false assertion, like those in this ad, Robin Carnahan is becoming more desperate," Chrismer said.