Politics & Government

In latest twist, GOP’s Dunn demands TV stations pull Harpootlian ads against him

Benjamin Dunn and Dick Harpootlian
Benjamin Dunn and Dick Harpootlian

The Republican candidate in a state Senate race is asking TV stations to take off the air ads by his opponent.

Two weeks before Election Day, the campaign of Benjamin Dunn has sent a letter to four Columbia-area TV stations asking them to stop airing ads that Dunn calls “false and misleading.”

The ads by Dunn’s Senate District 20 opponent, Democrat Dick Harpootlian, accuse Dunn of benefiting from spending by SCE&G, not a popular institution in the district as the utility fights in court to charge its customers’ higher rates to cover a failed nuclear construction project.

“My campaign filings with the S.C. Ethics Commission, which are available online for public viewing, clearly demonstrate that I haven’t accepted a single penny from SCE&G or (its parent company) SCANA,” Dunn says in the letter.

The letter was sent to TV stations WACH, WIS, WLTX and WOLO, according to Dunn’s campaign. As of Tuesday, the Dunn campaign had not received a response.

The letter was sent after a state judge last week ordered the S.C. Senate Republican Caucus to stop paying for ads that called Harpootlian a “socialist” and compared him to progressive U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Circuit Court Judge Casey Manning ruled the caucus had exceeded its legal spending limits by paying for almost $200,000 in TV ads supporting Dunn.

Reached by The State Tuesday, Columbia attorney Harpootlian said his ads are truthful. The pro-Dunn TV ads, paid for by Senate GOP Caucus, were the only TV advertising supporting Dunn, and the caucus’s funding comes partly from SCANA, he said.

Harpootlian added his ads are “much more truthful” than GOP Caucus ads labeling him a socialist.

“I’m one of the reddest capitalists in town,” Harpootlian said. “I make my living by making a profit, and I’m pretty good at it.”

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