DANVILLE — Robert Hurt’s campaign lawyers asked radio stations to pull an ad for fellow 5th District GOP primary candidate Jim McKelvey last week, citing federal law for publicity rights.
McKelvey shot back in a news release Friday, accusing Hurt of trying to “suppress the truth” before the primary election Tuesday.
The ad opens with an impersonation of former President Bill Clinton endorsing Hurt for the primary, poking fun at Hurt’s 2004 vote in favor of a $1.4 billion tax increase.
“Boy, I like that Robert Hurt,” the Clinton-esque voice says. “He helped my buddy and fellow Democrat Gov. Mark Warner pass the largest tax increase in Virginia history. I like him. I would vote for that man, Robert Hurt, ’cause he loves taxes like me.”
Hurt’s law firm, Holtzman Vogel PLLC, sent a letter to radio stations airing the ad explaining their position that the ad is in violation of the law and requesting the stations to cease airing the ad until McKelvey’s campaign “is able to satisfy its legal obligations.”
“While presumably intended to be satirical,” the letter reads, “this ad does not state that the voice is an impersonation of President Clinton could be a violation of Section 43 (a) of the Lanham Act concerning an individual’s right to publicity. See 15 U.S.C. 1125.”
With days until the primary, district polling shows presumed frontrunner Hurt with as much as a 25-point lead. Hurt and McKelvey are two of seven candidates running for the nomination to challenge Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Ivy, in November.
“Robert Hurt is running away from his high tax increase record that he simply cannot defend and is vulnerable in November to attacks from Democrat Tom Perriello,” McKelvey’s campaign manager, Brian O’Connor, said in the release.
Hurt said Friday that his campaign was holding McKelvey to the law.
“We pointed it out that his campaign was violating the law,” Hurt said. “We should be all about following the law. We would do that in any case. We follow the law, we expect our opponents to follow the law. It’s a fundamental issue, it seems to me.”
Catherine Amos reports for the Danville Register & Bee.