GOP group taunts Mark Kelly with billboards after cease and desist letter

GOP group taunts Mark Kelly with billboards after cease and desist letter
© Getty Images

The Senate Republicans' campaign arm said Wednesday it is putting up more billboards in Arizona going after Mark Kelly despite receiving a cease and desist letter from lawyers working for the Democratic Senate candidate.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) said the new billboards will focus on the Green New Deal advocated by progressives to tackle climate change, after Kelly criticized a similar advertisement about "Medicare for All."

“Is the NRSC in Mark Kelly’s head? Well, he and his legal team decided to send a cease and desist letter over a billboard we put up in Phoenix last week. Since Kelly seems more inclined to disclose his position on issues after we call out his silence, the NRSC decided to put up more billboards – in two locations in Phoenix – that target his silence on the Green New Deal,” the NRSC said in a press release.

ADVERTISEMENT

The group had previously placed billboards in a slate of Senate battleground states on proposals like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal in an effort to force Democratic candidates to take a stance on the hot-button issues.

The billboards were placed in Michigan, Minnesota, Alabama, New Hampshire and Arizona in an attempt to tie Democratic candidates in tight races to policies the GOP has slammed as "socialist" in nature.

“2020 Senate Democrat candidates will not get a pass on the extreme socialist policies being pushed by their party,” NRSC communications director Jesse Hunt told The Hill at the time. “Voters will be reminded of the millions of Americans that will lose jobs and private health insurance if Democrats take control.”

Kelly, who is running to unseat Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Republicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Planned Parenthood charges into 2020 | PhRMA CEO warns against Pelosi drug pricing bill | Medicaid work requirements costing states millions MORE (R) in Arizona to finish the final two years of the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Video depicting Trump killing media, critics draws backlash Backlash erupts at video depicting Trump killing media, critics Cindy McCain condemns video of fake Trump shooting political opponents, late husband MORE’s (R) term, has not given a firm answer about his stance on the Green New Deal but has said he does not support Medicare for All.

Lawyers for Kelly sent the NRSC a cease and desist letter in late April, shortly after billboards went up in Arizona. The lawyers said it was false to claim that Kelly was “silent” on the single-payer health care plan.

“In publishing the statement that Captain Kelly is silent on the issue of Medicare for All, the NRSC and Lamar Advertising either knew the statement was false or purposefully avoided the truth,” the attorneys wrote. “If the NRSC or Lamar Advertising ran even a single Internet search, they would have discovered the truth - that Mr. Kelly is not silent on the issue at all, but rather is on the record on live television opposing Medicare for All.”

“Therefore, either the NRSC and Lamar Advertising knew the statement on the billboard was false when it was published, or acted with reckless disregard for the truth by purposefully avoiding the truth and intentionally not checking to see whether Mr. Kelly had taken a position on the issue.”

The NRSC responded in a letter defending its stance and informing Kelly’s lawyers that it planned to put up new billboards about the Green New Deal.

When reached for comment, the Kelly campaign pointed to a statement released Monday ripping McSally over her past votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

"Senator McSally has shown that when it matters most, she won’t stand up to her own party leaders to keep costs from increasing on Arizona families and protect Arizonans with pre-existing conditions,” the campaign said.

— Max Greenwood contributed to this report