Halvorson blasts Bloomberg for big attack ad buy
BY NATASHA KORECKI email@example.com February 18, 2013 10:46PM
Former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson (pictured in 2011) announced last month that she's running for the 2nd Congressional District seat to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned last month. | Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: March 20, 2013 6:42AM
Second Congressional candidate Debbie Halvorson on Monday accused New York City Mayor — and billionaire — Michael Bloomberg of trying to “purchase this election” from out of state, as new filings showed his SuperPAC’s spending on the Illinois race has now topped $2 million.
That’s one and a half times the amount of money raised by the top three candidates combined in the race to replace Jesse Jackson Jr.
“We cannot allow Bloomberg to buy this district from New York,” Halvorson said in a news conference Monday.
Halvorson is in a bitter battle over the seat, and her opposition to an assault weapons ban has repeatedly been targeted in TV ads purchased by Bloomberg’s Independence USA Pac. The committee is taking aim at candidates throughout the country who do not back President Obama’s gun violence proposals. Halvorson has had scant financial firepower to defend herself — she’s raised less than $50,000 on her own — and about half of that money she loaned to herself.
Halvorson accused her top opponent — Robin Kelly — of improperly coordinating with Bloomberg’s political action committee. She cited the publication, Capitol Fax, which in a Feb. 1 item quoted an anonymous source saying that Kelly told donors Bloomberg would target Halvorson and another candidate, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson.
When asked if that was her only evidence, Halvorson replied that was all she needed — on top of Hutchinson dropping out of the race Sunday — after she began being targeted by the ads. Hutchinson put her support behind Kelly.
“All of this truly raises eyebrows and questions surrounding Bloomberg’s attempt to purchase this election,” Halvorson said.
Kelly’s campaign flatly denied Halvorson’s claims on Monday, countering that Halvorson had gone “off the rails.”
“Halvorson has made a series of bizarre, unsubstantiated claims to the media is recent days, indicating her campaign has reached a new level of desperation,” said a Kelly campaign statement. “These wild accusations have no basis in reality, and are an attempt to distract the voters from the dominant issue in this campaign: gun violence.”
Filings with the Federal Election Commission show Bloomberg’s SuperPac spending was at $2.1 million as of Sunday, which included a $700,000 TV buy to back Kelly, a former state representative.
Halvorson has held an A rating with the NRA. She said she supports “common sense” laws to combat gun violence, including universal background checks and a federal gun trafficking law.
A message left for Mayor Bloomberg was forwarded to his political action committee.
Stefan Friedman, spokesman for Independence USA, said the “scourge of gun violence knows no state boundaries.”
“Mayor Bloomberg has been clear that whether it’s in New York, Illinois, California or anywhere else, he is committed to getting guns out of the hands of criminals by supporting President Obama’s gun safety package. Debbie Halvorson opposes President Obama’s proposal, and it is important that voters get the facts about her record.”
Another candidate in the race, Ald. Anthony Beale, says he had done more to combat gun violence than Kelly, charging that she “latched onto” the issue “to win an election.”
“We are letting a New York billionaire and the mayor of New York City dictate the terms and possibly the outcome of the 2nd District special election. Voters deserve better,” Beale said.