Democrats pull ad in N.J. congressional race

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ASBURY PARK, N.J. — The campaign to replace Republican Rep. Jon Runyan in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District has officially gotten nasty.

Republican nominee Tom MacArthur was successful this week in getting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to remove a misleading television attack ad running in the district on behalf of its candidate in the race, Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Beglard.

The ad attempted to link MacArthur to firefighters from Arizona who filed a federal lawsuit last year against their insurance provider, York Risk Services Group, which had denied their claims. The company was once owned by MacArthur, but he had sold the business before the claims were made.

Hannah Ledford, Belgard’s campaign manager, said the ad was produced by the DCCC in Washington, D.C.. Under federal election law, the DCCC and the Belgard campaign in New Jersey are prohibited from coordinating strategy together. Therefore, the campaign had no prior knowledge as to the content of the ad until it aired in the district, she said.

The firefighters accused York of violating federal racketeering laws by conspiring with the company’s hand-picked doctors to deny injury claims to the firefighters and their families, and using mail and electronic communications to carry out the fraud across state lines, according to The Arizona Republic.

“This entire basis for the advertisement entitled ‘Fire’ is untrue,” wrote MacArthur attorney William R. Burns, in a letter to Comcast Corp. dated Sunday. “The allegations related to lawsuits filed by Phoenix firefighters have nothing to do with Tom MacArthur whatsoever. Mr. MacArthur ceased running day-to-day operations at York Risk Services Group, Inc. in 2009, and he left York Risk Services Group, Inc. completely on Dec. 28, 2010, and retired.”

The claims outlined in the suit were made in December 2011, one year after MacArthur sold the company, Burns wrote. The attorney threatened to sue Comcast if the ad was not immediately removed from broadcast.

After the letter was received by legal counsel for Comcast, the DCCC agreed to pull the ad, said Chris Russell, a spokesman for the MacArthur campaign, who has called the campaign spot “outrageous.” The spot was also removed from social media.