GOP ad hits Senate hopeful for stance on child abuse bill
© YouTube

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has launched a new web ad hitting North Carolina Senate candidate Deborah Ross over her record while leading the state’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The ad, which begins running on YouTube Thursday, focuses on Ross’s opposition to a 1997 bill that made it a crime for a person who knew about child abuse not to report it. She is challenging two-term incumbent Republican Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Pelosi says she's open to stock trading ban for Congress Momentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks MORE (N.C.).

ADVERTISEMENT

Forty-five children died of abuse the previous year, according to a report at the time by Raleigh's The News and Observer.

The ad opens with a montage of young girls and boys while a female narrator says, “Children are vulnerable. Innocent. We must do everything we can to protect them.

“So why did radical Deborah Ross threaten to block a bill making it illegal for a person who knows about child abuse to not report it?” the narrator asks. “Ross even threatened a lawsuit if clergy weren’t exempted from that bill. 

“Who was she trying to protect? Not the victims of sexual abuse,” the ad concludes. “Deborah Ross, too radical for North Carolina.” 

The spot was paid for by the Senate Republican fundraising committee but authorized by Richard Burr's committee, according to a disclaimer at the end. Democrats are seizing on that to argue that Burr has gone negative in the race.

"This is a false attack and politics at its worst — but that’s not surprising from a typical Washington politician like Sen. Burr, who went to Washington, put himself first, and made friends with the special interests so they’d bail him out," said Helen Hare, senior communications adviser for the Ross campaign.  

Republicans argue that the ad’s content is backed up by media reports from the time.

Ross, while serving as executive director of the ACLU’s North Carolina chapter, threatened to bring a lawsuit against the bill unless an exemption was included for clergy, according to The News and Observer.

The North Carolina ACLU’s legal committee did not take a position on the bill because it did not include the exemption, which was opposed by some children’s advocates, among other reasons. 

“It says a lot about the character of an individual whose opinion isn’t swayed by the death of 45 innocent children. Deborah Ross is dangerous and does not have the judgment to keep North Carolina families safe,” said Alleigh Marré, the NRSC’s national press secretary. 

Hare, Ross’s spokeswoman, deflected the scrutiny back to Burr.

“Burr voted against funding that helped North Carolina law enforcement combat sexual predators and opposed putting resources toward preventing violence against women and families,” she said. 

The campaign is pointing to a 2007 vote Burr cast against an appropriations bill that included $15.6 million for a grant program to help state and local law enforcement enforce sex offender registration laws.