By SUSAN HAIGH
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut’s former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz went on the attack Thursday, accusing her Democratic Senate primary rival of being too financially cozy with Wall Street, only to acknowledge by the end of the day that a key part of her new TV ad blasting U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy was wrong.
Jonathan Ducote, Bysiewicz’s campaign manager, told The Associated Press that a “research error” is to blame for the erroneous claim in the 30-second commercial that Murphy “has taken more hedge fund money than any other Democrat in Congress.”
Rather, Ducote clarified that Murphy, back in 2008, was the fourth-largest recipient of hedge fund contributions.
Ben Marter, a campaign spokesman for Murphy, the Democrats’ endorsed candidate, called on Bysiewicz to pull the ad, which began running on broadcast stations Thursday morning.
Ducote said the campaign had no immediate plans to pull the ad and that it was reviewing the process for a possible edit.
In the meantime, the campaign did make changes to a website it had created, wallstreetmurphy.com , to coincide with the new TV ad. Some of the so-called Wall Street contributors that Bysiewicz said had given to Murphy’s congressional campaigns over the years were removed, including the American Society of Anesthesiologists Political Action Committee, the National Beer Wholesalers Association PAC and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America PAC.
Despite the errors, Bysiewicz and Ducote stood by the overall theme in the ad _ the first negative commercial in the closely watched U.S. Senate race. They contend that Murphy has accepted more than $700,000 in Wall Street-related contributions since 2006, which Ducote said is more than any other House Democrat.
“It is absolutely accurate that Chris Murphy took over $700,000 from Wall Street sources,” Bysiewicz said in a written statement, also repeating her criticism that Murphy once voted against closing a loophole affecting how hedge fund income is taxed. “Mr. Murphy is looking for any technicality possible to attack my ad because he cannot defend these facts.”
Murphy spokeswoman Taylor Lavender said the ad is based largely on false claims and hypocrisy, and she accused Bysiewicz of running misleading campaigns since the 1990s.
“The truth is that nobody in Connecticut is buying the attack because it is simply made up out of thin air,” Lavender said. “Chris has been fighting for Wall Street reform for years. Bysiewicz seems to have simply brought up this issue in the last 18 months because she thinks it polls well.”
Murphy’s campaign also pointed out that Bysiewicz has accepted campaign contributions from Wall Street-related interests, including $6,500 from hedge funds this year, compared to the $10,200 Murphy has received. The Murphy campaign argued that Bysiewicz’s hedge fund contributions actually comprise a larger percentage of her campaign war chest, compared to Murphy’s.
Murphy has raised a total of $5.45 million compared to Bysiewicz’s $2.25 million.
In her ad, a smiling Bysiewicz appears next to a rolling screen of contributions to Murphy’s campaign, similar to an ad Murphy ran in 2006 against former Republican U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson. Bysiewicz accuses Murphy, who won that race, of ultimately stepping away from his promises back then to “change Congress.”
She then looks into the camera and says, “You can’t stand up to Wall Street when they’re giving you this much money.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)