Koch group faces blowback after using Aurora image

Sen. Mark Udall is calling on his Republican opponent to denounce an Americans for Prosperity ad that features a picture of President Obama and the Colorado Democrat together while visiting victims of the Aurora movie theater shooting.

“All Coloradans, regardless of political party, agree that using the Aurora tragedy in political attacks is callous, insensitive and wrong," Udall campaign manager Adam Dunstone said in a statement. "Congressman Cory Gardner should do the right thing by demanding his friends and allies stop using the Aurora tragedy for political gain."

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The ad, critical of Udall's support for the president's signature healthcare plan, uses a photoshopped image taken during a visit by Obama and Udall to the University of Colorado hospital, where victims and their family members had gathered.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political action committee founded with the support of the billionaire Koch brothers, has spent aggressively against vulnerable Democratic candidates during the 2014 campaign cycle.

“As someone who attended an Aurora memorial alongside Senator Udall, Gardner surely has the decency to publicly condemn the Koch brothers for this cynical ad," Dunstone said in his statement.

Family members of some of the victims of the shooting attack also condemned the advertisement in a statement.

"The use of an image taken from the President's visit to Colorado to meet with us after our children were killed in the Aurora Theater shooting is an utter disgrace," the families said in a statement. 

"And to insinuate the somber expressions were for anything other than their compassionate response to our heartbreak is beyond unconscionable. Americans for Prosperity is exploiting our tragedy for political gain and this ad should be pulled from the air immediately. We hope Colorado television stations will exercise sound judgment and not air this ad until AFP removes the image."

The statement was signed by the family members of four of the 12 people who were killed in the July 2012 shooting attack. 

“Fortunately we can and will change the image. Senator Udall can’t change his record that led to over 335,000 Coloradans receiving letters indicating that their healthcare policy had been canceled,” AFP Colorado spokesman Dustin Zvonek told KDVR.