Senator’s Outreach Ad To Black Voters Appears To Use Stock Video From Africa

A new ad highlighting Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-NC) work in helping disadvantaged children in his state appears to feature black children from a school in Africa, not North Carolina.

The ad titled “Kirby” features an interview with African American Pastor Kirby Jones who says that Burr “has done a great deal to help the children and their families get on a path and trajectory that leads to academic success and life success. He is genuinely interested in our community, in our children.”

The ad includes two pieces of footage from Getty’s iStock catalog that are tagged as “non US” locations.

One is titled “African teacher and school girls,” and is tagged with keywords like “non US location,” “South African culture,” “Africa,” African ethnicity,” and “African American ethnicity.”

The other is titled “Group of school children drawing” and is tagged things like “African ethnicity,” “education,” “Africa,” “African-American Ethnicity,” “South African Culture” and “Non U.S. location.”

While it is not uncommon for candidates to use stock video footage in an ad, using footage from abroad has tripped up other politicians before. In 2015, Jeb Bush’s super PAC Right to Rise used stock footage from Europe and Asia in an ad promoting promise in America’s future. One of Sen. Marco Rubio’s ads in the presidential race titled “Morning in America’ featured stock footage from Canada.

The Burr campaign released a comment as well as referred questions about the ad to its maker, Doug McAuliffe, who told TPM that the ad company used stock video because it was not able to shoot B-roll of students in Pastor Kirby’s program. According to McAuliffe, he was sensitive about ensuring that Kirby’s group’s tax exempt status was not put in jeopardy by being a part of a political ad.

When asked why the ad company didn’t try to find stock footage of U.S. children for the ad, McAuliffe reiterated that he had turned to a U.S.-based company.

“I don’t think that is the point. The point is that we go to an American entity,” McAuliffe said.

The campaign’s spokesman Jesse Hunt told TPM in an e-mailed statement that “Deborah Ross and her liberal allies should spend more of their time trying to come up with a better explanation for her fight against the creation of the
North Carolina Sex Offender Registry. This is merely an attempt to
distract people from her radical record with the ACLU.”

Burr is running for re-election against Democrat Deborah Ross. The TPM PollTracker shows Burr is leading by 2.3 points in the race.

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