An outside group’s television commercial attacking U.S. Sen. David Vitter returned to the air Friday, after the group made a minor tweak demanded by television stations that pulled it Thursday at the Vitter campaign’s behest.
The 30-second negative ad broadcasts Vitter’s link to a prostitution scandal and includes a brief news clip from 2010 that reported that a Vitter staffer in Washington had just resigned, two years after his girlfriend accused him of slashing her.
The Vitter campaign’s New Orleans law firm got stations to withdraw the initial version of the ad because it stated that the staffer, Brent Furer, had pleaded guilty to the stabbing charge. He actually pleaded to three lesser charges, including obstruction, attempted threats and destruction of property, The Advocate reported in 2010.
News accounts at the time said Furer resigned, but Vitter that year said he fired his aide because Furer had been arrested on drunken driving charges.
Furer had an open warrant for his arrest in Baton Rouge on a drunken driving charge, according to ABC News, which broke the story that preceded the aide’s dismissal. ABC News and the Associated Press both reported that handling women’s issues were part of Furer’s responsibilities.
The new version of the TV ad doesn’t mention whether Furer pleaded guilty.
The Advocate reported on Thursday that WAFB-Channel 9 and WBRZ-TV pulled the ads. The Vitter campaign said stations in Lafayette, Alexandria and Monroe also withdrew the ad Thursday, but The Advocate was not able to substantiate that.
Executives at WAFB and WBRZ said on Friday that they had approved the new version of the ad.
“They had to change the copy or provide more documentation,” said WAFB’s general manager, Lee Meredith. “They chose to change the copy.”
WBRZ’s director of sales, Denise Robichaux, said the ad would air again on Saturday.
A news release from the group, the Louisiana Water Coalition, said Vitter was using “legal scare tactics and trying to hide from the facts that highlight his record and his lack of respect for women.”
Asked to comment Friday, Vitter campaign spokesman Luke Bolar sent an email making allegations about aides working for Vitter’s Republican opponents.
The Water Coalition group has made a substantial buy, LaPolitics Weekly reported Thursday, purchasing $672,000 of ad time through Sept. 28.
Laurie Tate, a Baton Rouge public defender who is the Water Coalition group’s managing member, has declined to identify its principal backers.
The Vitter campaign believes the main donors are trial lawyers. The group will have to identify its donors on Sept. 24 when campaign finance reports have to be filed.
Follow Tyler Bridges on Twitter @TegBridges.
For more coverage of the state capitol, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/.