With just under two weeks to go until a special election to fill the Georgia congressional seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Republicans have been trying to slime the race’s leading Democratic candidate by seizing on work he did with Al Jazeera to link him to terrorists like Osama Bin Laden.
In recent days, the race has seen an ad from a super PAC affiliated with House Republican leadership and a mailer from one of the Republican candidates in the race attack Jon Ossoff for working with the Qatar-based network on investigative films.
The Congressional Leadership Fund released an attack ad Wednesday that tries to link Ossoff to Osama Bin Laden via his work with Al Jazeera. That ad cites a Washington Free Beacon article published in March that notes Ossoff was paid by the Qatari network for work he did with an investigative film company, Insight TWI. The company has produced documentaries on human trafficking by the Islamic State and foreign food aid fraud.
The narrator in the ad claims that Al Jazeera has been “described as a mouthpiece for terrorists” as pictures of al Qaeda fighters and Osama Bin Laden appear on the screen.
“What is he hiding? How can we trust him?” the narrator asks in the ad.
The Ossoff campaign blasted the ad as a “smear attack.”
“This smear attack is truly shameful. Jon served as a national security aide, had top secret clearance and he’s proud of his work as an investigative filmmaker working for outlets all over the world like the BBC, Skyvision, and yes, Al Jazeera,” campaign manager Keenan Pontoni said in a statement. “Jon helped stop the theft of US tax dollars and helped expose atrocities committed by ISIS. Comparing that important work to helping terrorists goes beyond the pale.”
One Republican candidate in the race, former Georgia state Sen. Judson Hill, has sent out a mailer attacking Ossoff for doing work with the “Anti-American” Al Jazeera network (the mailer misspells the network’s name as “Al Jezeera”). A picture of the mailer, which depicts Ossoff in militant garb, was provided to TPM by a Georgia Democrat:
Ossoff has been leading the polls in a crowded race to fill Price’s old seat. A poll released Wednesday from 11Alive News and SurveyUSA showed Ossoff leading the field with 43 percent support, followed by Republicans Karen Handel and Bob Gray with 15 and 14 percent support, respectively.
Democrats are hopeful that they can flip the longtime Republican seat, which Newt Gingrich and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) held before Price, while the GOP candidates in the race have been going hard after Ossoff in an attempt to keep the district ruby-red.
The special election is a jungle primary, in which all candidates regardless of party face off on April 18. If no candidate nets 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff election in June.