The state Democratic Party has filed a 9-page complaint against Attorney General Rob McKenna, saying that industry-backed ads featuring McKenna are beyond the bounds of usual public-service announcements. The party wants the ads considered campaign contributions.
"This is a clear and illegal use of public office for political campaigning and a clear violation of public disclosure laws," charges John Ladenburg, the Democratic former prosecutor trying to unseat McKenna.
Among the ads in question: a 30-second Comcast ad featuring McKenna and McGruff the crime dog. (Topic: identity theft.) Ladenburg's also critical of an anti-drunk-driving ad paid for by distillers.
Traditional public-service announcements, Ladenburg maintains, should be "paid for by neutral parties in non-election years around issues not directly related to a political campaign." In fact, he says that if elected, he'll propose a ban on an elected official's name, image or title appearing in any public-service announcement during an election year.
McKenna spokesman Adam Faber said the complaint is groundless.
"We just consider it to be a desperate tactic by a man who's far behind us by any measure," Faber said. McKenna is confident that the state Public Disclosure Commission will dismiss the complaint, he said.