ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Democratic Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn has hit back against Republican David Perdue's charge that she and former President George H.W. Bush's foundation financially supported terrorism.
Nunn speaks directly into the camera for the entirety of the 30-second ad that is now airing statewide.
"David Perdue's running ads saying that while I led President Bush's Points of Light foundation we funneled money to terrorists," she says. "That's a terrible lie and an insult to the millions of volunteers I worked with to make a difference."
The Perdue campaign stood by the charges Friday, maintaining that they're based on "direct concerns raised by Michelle Nunn's own campaign plan" and that the matter highlights Perdue's focus on "preventing future terrorist attacks here at home."
Two Republican ads — one paid for by Perdue's campaign, the other by the national GOP's Senate campaign arm — actually use partial quotes from part of a Nunn strategy memo that predicts Republican lines of attack, but disputes their truthfulness.
Nunn notes in her monologue that nonpartisan analysts have sharply criticized the ads as misleading and that a Bush family member has assailed the charges as "shameful."
Perdue, Nunn and Libertarian Amanda Swafford meet in the Nov. 4 general election. The outcome will help determine which party controls the Senate in January.
On leave of absence as CEO of the Bushes' Points of Light organization, Nunn has run as a "common-sense" moderate above partisanship, perhaps the only way she can pull an upset in a GOP-controlled state that Obama lost twice. She touts her relationship with the elder Bush and his family, still a power in Republican circles, as proof she can reach across the aisle.
Once Perdue, a former corporate CEO who like Nunn is a first-time candidate, won the Republican primary, Nunn wasn't the only "outsider" nominee. Yet with her latest response, she links Perdue with the Washington rancor both of them lament.
"These kinds of attacks are what's wrong with politics," she concludes. "I'm determined to bring decency to Washington."
The Republican attacks stem from a Nunn campaign document written by strategists and mistakenly published online. The document predicts that Republicans will accuse Nunn and the foundation of making "grants to problematic entities" and "awards to inmates, terrorists."
The Nunn campaign has since released details involving a Points of Light subsidiary, MissionFish, which handled transactions in which buyers and sellers at the online auction site eBay directed a portion of a sale to charity.
According to the foundation and the Nunn campaign, MissionFish validated charities as legitimate — having tax-free status or the equivalent in whatever country they were based. Then MissionFish collected and distributed the proceeds, though it was effectively eBay sellers who selected the recipient charities and buyers who paid the money that eventually reached their coffers.
Among the 20,000 organizations that fell under that umbrella was Islamic Relief USA, which according to public documents, received about $13,500 in transactions handled by MissionFish. Islamic Relief is a subsidiary of Islamic Relief Worldwide, which the Israeli government has claimed is linked to Hamas, the militant ruling party in Gaza deemed a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department.
Islamic Relief denies being associated with Hamas.