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Kamala Harris filing complaint over GOP group's ad, 'shouting from the rooftops' about its backers

October 25, 2010 |  1:51 pm

An attorney for Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for California attorney general, on Monday said her campaign would immediately file a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission regarding an "attack ad" against Harris being aired by a national Republican organization.

James Sutton, Harris' campaign counsel, said a television commercial paid for by the Virginia-based Republican State Leadership Assn. failed to disclose that the group received its primary funding from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and tobacco giant Phillip Morris. California election law requires that disclosure to be included in all independent-expenditure advertising in political campaigns, he said.

The $1.3-million independent advertising campaign criticizes Harris, the San Francisco district attorney, for deciding not to seek the death penalty against a police officer's killer in 2004. The ad is airing in Los Angeles.

Adam Temple, spokesman for the Republican organization, said they had no intention of altering the commercial.

"It follows California law," Temple said, "and it’s 100% compliant."

The Republican State Leadership Committee is headed by Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee under President George W. Bush, and supports Republicans in state political contests throughout the country.

Sutton said the commercial fell within state laws regulating independent-expenditure campaigns intended to influence political races and, therefore, required major donors to be disclosed in the ad.

But Temple said the ad fell under laws regulating issue-based commercials, which do not require disclosure.

The Harris campaign also called on GOP rival Steve Cooley, the district attorney for Los Angeles County, to denounce the ad, a request the Cooley campaign quickly dismissed.

"The ad is factual and truthful and is based on news clips. The fact is, Harris opposes the death penalty in all cases. She refused to seek the death penalty against the killer of a police officer on duty," said Cooley campaign spokesman Kevin Spillane. "She just doesn’t want voters to know the truth."

On Saturday, Cooley said his campaign had nothing to do with the ad in question but that he was happy to see Harris being held accountable for refusing to seek the death penalty against the man who shot and killed San Francisco Police Officer Isaac Espinoza in April 2004.

Harris campaign consultant Ace Smith said to combat the negative ad, the campaign will be "shouting from the rooftops" to let voters know that the Republican group behind is supported by tobacco and oil companies, as well as pharmaceutical firms and insurance companies such as Blue Cross. He argued that the firms were supporting Cooley because, if elected, he would cater to their interests.

-- Phil Willon