Murkowski tells broadcasters to reject tea party group's 'lies'

Kyle Hopkins
MARK THIESSEN / The Associated Press

The Tea Party Express returned to Alaska on Monday vowing to beat Sen. Lisa Murkowski all over again.

The California-based political action group, which reported spending more than $550,000 on the bare-knuckle ads that helped Joe Miller stun Murkowski during the August primary, will spend another "six figures" on Alaska's Senate race for the Nov. 2 general election, chairwoman Amy Kremer told reporters.

"We're here to let Lisa Murkowski know that 'no' means 'no,' " Kremer said Monday morning as the Tea Party Express unveiled two new TV commercials.

One spot cheers Miller's military background. The other goes after Murkowski, telling voters she was appointed to office by her "daddy" -- complete with an image of a red bow on a Senate seat -- and painting the seven-year incumbent as manipulative and self-interested.

The Murkowski camp swung back in the afternoon with a statement saying the commercials are "littered with lies" and calling on Alaska broadcasters to pull them before they hit the airwaves. The ads should be placed on hold until claims are verified, the campaign said.

"Alaskans deserve a better political discourse than this," said Murkowski. "This ad is vile."

Murkowski's lawyers wrote broadcasters "reminding them that they will be held liable for knowingly running false advertising or for knowingly broadcasting false information," according to a statement from the campaign.

Efforts to reach managers of local stations weren't successful late Monday.

The Murkowski campaign targeted lines in the commercial that accuse Murkowski of trying to manipulate the state Libertarian Party into awarding her the party's spot on the ballot. Libertarian Party chairman Scott Kohlhaas told The Associated Press that he had a "get-to-know-you" with Murkowski's then-campaign manager but that the party did not feel manipulated by Murkowski.

Murkowski is waging a write-in campaign against Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams. Her campaign said a claim in the Tea Party Express commercial that she tried to influence the primary ballot count is also dishonest.

Elections officials said that while an elections consultant the Murkowski campaign brought to Alaska broke rules by texting inside the ballot room, Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai has disputed a complaint by a Miller campaign lawyer that the consultant improperly accessed a state computer at the Division of Elections office in Wasilla.

The return of the Tea Party Express, and Murkowski's barbed response, mark another escalation in the bruising Senate contest.

A man wearing a "no income tax" pin and a "Second Amendment Task Force" patch on his hat stood in the small crowd as the Tea Party Express began its news conference Monday with a Pledge of Allegiance and singing of the national anthem.

Kremer said she can't say how the tea party group's general election spending will compare to the more than half a million it poured into the Republican primary race.

"It all depends on how much money we raise," Kremer said.

Kremer said she plans to leave Alaska this morning and will likely spend Election Day in Nevada, where the Tea Party Express is backing Sharron Angle against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in that state's Senate race.

In the meantime, the Tea Party Express' plans for Alaska include:

• Airing television and radio ads.

• Sending direct mailers to voters.

• Encouraging tea party volunteers, by e-mail and through social networking, to each call dozens of Alaskans and read a script supporting Miller.

• Holding a paid, two-hour fundraiser from 6 to 8 p.m. last night on KBYR 700 AM.

Kremer hoped to raise $25,000 during the radio-thon and called on other tea party groups to help raise money for the Tea Party Express efforts in the Alaska Senate race.

"Lisa, we have beat you once and we will beat you again," Kremer said.

Read The Village, the ADN's blog about rural Alaska, at Twitter updates: Call Kyle Hopkins at 257-4334.

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