A campaign commercial for U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson played again Sunday night even though it had previously raised questions about closely skirting congressional ethics rules, an allegation the campaign denies.
The ad ran in most Florida NBC markets during the second hour of the Democratic Presidential Debate Sunday night. It uses a few seconds of footage of Grayson in his official role as a member of Congress, testifying in a committee.
Congressional rules forbid tapes of House committee proceedings from being used in a political campaign. The commercial “Alan Grayson: Progressive Warrior” first aired in four Florida markets in December. This time, it aired in all Florida markets except South Florida, according to his campaign.
FloridaPolitics.com previously raised concerns about potential House ethics violations relating to the ad in late December, citing House Rule 11, Clause 4(b), which clearly states: “[Radio] and television tapes and film of any coverage of House committee proceedings may not be used, or made available for use, as partisan political campaign material to promote or oppose the candidacy of any person for public office.”
Grayson’s campaign spokesman Dave Damron said the ad falls outside the rule because it does not use official tapes of the committee, but rather news footage of the committee, broadcast secondhand from the tapes, by MSNBC. The clip is four seconds long, within a 30-second spot.
“The ad employs several powerful testimonials on Congressman Grayson’s strong progressive record,” Damron said. “The one you reference is from a clearly marked MSNBC story that used its editorial discretion to identify him as a member of Congress, and it included no reference to the hearing’s activity or audio from it.”
Most of the ad includes comments from a variety of staunch progressive voices, including actor Martin Sheen, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, and MSNBC hosts Ed Schultz and Chris Hayes.
The timing of Sunday night’s commercial would have brought Grayson some high-profile viewership in Florida because it aired early in the second hour of the final Democratic presidential primary debate before Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.
Grayson is locked in a fight with Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter for the Democratic nomination for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. The winner will have to take on the Republican nominee from a battle among U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and David Jolly of Seminole, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox.