Anti-gun super PAC funneling millions to defeat New Hampshire’s Ayotte
By Evan Lips | October 6, 2016, 14:37 EDT
CONCORD, N.H. — With her three vetoes of concealed-carry bills inside of just three months, anti-gun advocates are rushing to support Gov. Maggie Hassan’s bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, with the most recent evidence surfacing in the form of a $2.82 million attack ad-buy courtesy of a gun control group launched by former Democratic Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The super PAC Americans for Responsible Solutions, first reported by the Washington Free Beacon, has set its financial targets on unseating just one federal lawmaker this election cycle — Ayotte.
Filings with the Federal Election Commission show that ARS’s expenditures rank fifth in the state in terms of campaign spending, $100,000 more than even the Democratic Party’s own campaign committee.
New Hampshire’s Senate election is one of six nationwide labeled as a “toss-up” this year, according to RealClearPolitics.com. A Hassan victory could help tip the balance in the Senate back in favor of Democrats. The latest RCP poll averages show Ayotte clinging to a slim 2.3-point lead, well within the margin for error.
The ARS ad claims that Ayotte “stands with the Washington gun lobby, they fund her campaigns.”
According to Politifact.com, however, Ayotte has accepted just $7,450 in campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association over the course of her career although she has also voted several times in the Senate against Democrat-led bills aimed at expanding background checks. New Hampshire happens to rank first out of all six New England states in terms of gun ownership and 13th overall in the nation.
ARS ramped efforts to unseat Ayotte this week after the Nashua Republican during a debate with Hassan said she’d “absolutely” tell children to view Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as a role model. Ayotte’s answer attracted a firestorm of media attention. ARS proceeded to make a connection between Ayotte’s support of Trump and Trump’s views on guns.
“Kelly Ayotte ‘absolutely’ emulates Donald Trump’s irresponsible stance on guns,” an ARS press release declared Tuesday.
“While Senator Ayotte tries to distance herself from her own statement that Donald Trump is a role model for our children, we know that Senator Ayotte absolutely emulates Donald Trump’s irresponsible position on guns,” ARS Executive Director Peter Ambler said in a prepared statement. “Not only has Senator Ayotte, like Donald Trump, opposed gun violence prevention, but she has also attempted to obscure her record by citing her support for toothless, gun-lobby-backed plans that masquerade as good policy.
“And like Donald Trump, Senator Ayotte remains firmly in the Washington gun lobby’s grip, despite Granite Staters’ overwhelming support for responsible change that will make our communities safer.”
Ayotte later said she “misspoke.”
My statement on tonight’s debate: pic.twitter.com/BxNE0NQn6m
— Kelly Ayotte (@KellyAyotte) October 4, 2016
During a “Congress on your Corner” event In January 2011, then-U.S. Rep. Giffords was shot in the head at point-blank range with a 9mm Glock pistol wielded by Jared Lee Loughner, who also killed six others in the process. Giffords survived. Loughner was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Giffords launched ARS on Jan. 11, 2013, on the two-year anniversary of Loughner’s massacre.
Ayotte campaign spokesman Liz Johnson told the Free Beacon that ARS’s actions prove that they are specifically a political group and not a grassroots campaign looking to fix gun laws.
“Gov. Hassan’s special interest allies have spent millions of dollars on false ads attacking Kelly (Ayotte), proving that they’re more interested in playing politics than in finding solutions,” Johnson told the Free Beacon.