Bloomberg’s Gun Group Takes Out $400,000 Ad Buy Against Kelly Ayotte

Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group is waging a new front in its war against Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), this time launching a $400,000 ad blitz accusing her of deceiving constituents on her vote on background checks.

The 30-second spot, “False Alibi,” will air in the Manchester, N.H. and Boston-area media markets between today and June 13, Jack Warner, a spokesman for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told TPM.It features Scott Knight, a police chief in Chaska, Minn., taking the New Hampshire Republican to task for claiming to have supported background checks when she voted against them and helped scuttle legislation in April to require them at gun shows and for internet gun sales.

“As a police chief, I look at facts. Some U.S. senators claim they supported a law to strengthen background checks,” Knight said. “Their vote actually weakened current gun laws, making it easier for the dangerously mentally ill to get guns. Sen. Ayotte uses her vote for this law as an alibi to claim she is tough on crime. Don’t be fooled. She voted to kill comprehensive background checks, making us less safe. That’s a fact.”

Ayotte and other Republican senators have pointed to their votes for an alternate bill that would have changed the FBI’s criminal check system as evidence that they support background checks. That National Rifle Association-backed bill, which also failed, did not close loopholes for people to avoid background checks; it increased the amount of mental health information in the system and made it easier for recovered mentally ill people to buy guns.

“Senator Ayotte is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of voters,” John Feinblatt, chief policy adviser to Bloomberg and chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told TPM in a statement. “But police chiefs like Scott Knight, the former chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Firearms Committee, know the facts — and we want to make sure voters do, too.”

A spokesperson for Ayotte didn’t respond to a request for comment. The senator wrote in an op-ed last month defending herself against earlier MAIG ads targeting her.

“Out of state special interests are running false ads attacking me and even lying about my efforts to prevent gun-related violence. I want to set the record straight,” she wrote. “I support effective background checks and in fact voted recently to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).”

The new ad buy comes on top of at least $650,000 MAIG has already spent attacking Ayotte.

The ambitious first-term Republican is an obvious target for several reasons: she’s the only senator in the entire Northeast region who voted against the background check legislation by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), and the residents of her Democratic-leaning state are strongly supportive of universal background checks.