After Kansas Democrat Paul Davis complained about a Republican ad for falsely stating he supports Nancy Pelosi, the GOP group that funded the TV commercial threatened to start airing ads about a strip club incident in his past.
“Paul Davis should be careful what he wishes for — when the Pelosi ads come down, the strip club ads go up,” said Corry Bliss, executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super political action committee linked to Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Davis is running to replace Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who is retiring, in Kansas’ 2nd congressional district.
When he ran against GOP Gov. Sam Brownback for governor in 2014, Republicans attacked him over reports that he’d been at a strip club when it was raided in a search for drugs 16 years earlier.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Davis dismissed the reports as irrelevant at the time and said he “was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Nobody has ever accused me of any wrongdoing.” Davis, who was 26 when the raid occurred, went to the club at the invitation of his boss, who was the club’s attorney. He was briefly questioned and released. Police confirmed he was never the focus of any investigation and he was not charged with anything.
Now Davis is in a competitive race with Republican Steve Watkins for one of Kansas’ four congressional seats in a district widely considered a tossup.
“DC special interest groups must be desperate if they’re not even going to attempt to make this race about their own failed agenda,” said Haley Pollock, a spokeswoman for Davis’ campaign.
“All they have to offer Kansas voters is tax cuts for millionaires, trade wars for farmers, and a candidate who never voted in a statewide Kansas election before this week,” Pollock said. “These lies from shadowy special interest groups are exactly why we need change in Washington.”
Davis one of a growing number of moderate Democrats who have said they would not vote for Pelosi. Republicans have sought to tie her to them anyway as part of their strategy to hold onto control of the U.S. House in November.
On the day he launched his campaign in August 2017, Davis pledged not to vote for Pelosi as minority leader or speaker.
But the Congressional Leadership Fund began airing an ad in the district this week that claims “a vote for Paul Davis is a vote for Nancy Pelosi,” the California Democrat who serves as minority leader in the U.S. House.
On Thursday, Davis’ attorney sent a letter to a local television station in an effort to halt the broadcast of the ad.
The letter pointed out that Davis has repeatedly stated that he will not vote for Pelosi as minority leader or speaker if he is elected.
“Suggesting anything otherwise is false,” wrote Davis’ general counsel Vic Miller in a letter to the station manager of KMBC-TV in Kansas City.
“Your station has full power to reject (the ad) for any reason,” the letter states. “Because you do not need to air this advertisement, your station bears responsibility for its content when you do grant access... Failing to prevent the airing of ‘false and misleading advertising’” could be grounds for the station to lose its license.”
The Congressional Leadership Fund’s Bliss defended the ad in an email to The Star on Friday.
“Nancy Pelosi and her liberal allies are funding Paul Davis’ campaign because they know he would be a rubber stamp for her liberal agenda in Congress,” he said.
KMBC did not immediately respond to request for comment.