PORTLAND — Independent U.S. Senate candidate Angus King's campaign is threatening legal action if TV stations don't pull a pair of ads accusing him of backroom deals and profiteering on a wind power project in Maine. The King campaign is also airing a TV spot that aims to set the record straight.
Campaign Manager Kay Rand said Monday that the campaign petitioned TV stations in Portland, Bangor and Presque Isle because the Republican National Senatorial Committee's ads contain falsehoods.
The RNSC ads described the Record Hill project as a "sweetheart deal" and said King made millions off the project, while he actually made $212,000 over five years, Rand said.
Rand said the campaign is fed up after nearly $2 million in attack ads funded by outside interests. "We've tried everything including responding over the web, responding in debates, educating editorial boards. At some point, enough is enough," she told reporters.
An RNSC spokesman said the ads are accurate and that the legal threats are a distraction.
"There is a simple way to address this though. Instead of holding press conferences, King should release all of his emails, records and contracts regarding this project so that Mainers can see for themselves who is being truthful," Brian Walsh, RNSC communications director, said in a statement.
King has been criticized because his former company, Independence Wind, accepted a federal loan guarantee for Record Hill, a 22-turbine, 50-megawatt wind power project in Roxbury. Republicans also have attacked him for allegedly using his political connections to help his business after leaving office.
King gave up his stake in the wind energy company in March to avoid a conflict in the Senate race.
Roxbury resident Kathy Sutton said she was saddened by the RNSC attack ads. She said only three of the five people featured in the ad are actually from Roxbury, and that they didn't reflect the views of the entire community.
Many residents approve of the way King handled the Roxbury project and addressed their concerns, and residents are benefiting from property tax reductions, job creation and a quarterly energy rebate, she said.
There was no immediate response from TV stations.
Rand said she understood that it would take some time for the stations to consult with their legal departments before making a decision on whether to pull the ads.
So far, the amount of spending in the Senate race isn't eye-popping, even with nearly $2 million in attack ads, said Michael Franz, a Bowdoin College professor who specializes in campaign advertising.
The negative attacks are likely to be less effective on King because people are already familiar with him through his two terms as governor, but the race could still become closer before Election Day, he said.
The race pits King against Republican Charlie Summers, Democrat Cynthia Dill and three other independents. They are vying to replace Olympia Snowe, who is retiring.