RALEIGH, N.C. — The first TV campaign ad shots have been fired in the race for governor, but the candidates did not even pull the trigger.
When the Republican Governor's Association started running an ad supporting GOP gubernatorial candidate Patrick Ballantine, North Carolina Democrats cried foul.
"It's clearly an ad supporting his candidacy for governor, and that makes it an illegal ad because corporate money is being used to pay for it," said Scott Falmlen, of the N.C. Democratic Party.
Now, an ad attacks Ballantine on jobs. A corporate-backed group called the State Capitol Media Project paid for the commercial. Yet, the Democrats say it is a perfectly legal "issue" ad.
"There's a difference. There may not be a difference to the casual observer, but there's a legal difference," Falmlen said.
"We think they're kind of talking out of both side of their mouth," said Bob Rosser, Ballantine campaign director. Rosser said he does not question whether any of the campaign ads are legal. He does question the content.
"They're coming in. They're running negative ads and they're trying to cover up the governor's record," he said.
Neither campaign has stepped in to try and the block the outside ads. However, the state Democratic Party has called on the State Board of Elections to intervene. The board will discuss the issue of corporate funding for campaign ads at its meeting on Friday.