WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. James Lankford, seeking to capitalize on Sen. Tom Coburn’s recent praise even without a full-fledged endorsement, has begun airing television ads for his U.S. Senate campaign using recent comments Coburn made about negative advertising.
Lankford’s new ad shows pictures of Coburn, R-Muskogee, and uses quotes from an interview last week with The Oklahoman and from a written statement in which Coburn blasted ads being run by outside groups against Lankford. Coburn called the ads deceitful and praised Lankford as “a man of absolute integrity.”
While Lankford was quoting Coburn’s praise, the senator came out Tuesday night against a dark money group backing Lankford that is running a negative ad against Lamkford opponent T.W. Shannon. That group, Foundation for Economic Prosperity, has also not disclosed all of its donors nor all of its spending in the race.
Coburn, a conservative icon who is stepping down at the end of this congressional session, has not endorsed a candidate in the race to replace him. Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, and state Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, are the frontrunners in the GOP primary on June 24. The Republican nominee is expected to win the general election easily in November.
One of the groups criticized by Coburn — Oklahomans for a Conservative Future — reported to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday that it spent another $157,000 this week on direct mail, mobile advertising and television advertising. That group, which does not disclose its donors, has now reported spending $1.2 million, with a big portion of its recent expenditures on negative spots against Lankford.
In his statement, Coburn said, “When the U.S. Senate special election in Oklahoma began, I made a private commitment to James Lankford and T.W. Shannon that I would call out any ads I saw as untruthful.
“Last week I spoke out against political advertisements in Oklahoma unfairly and inaccurately attacking James Lankford. To be fair, I must also comment on the equally disappointing negative advertisements airing in the state by the Foundation for Economic Prosperity, Inc. attacking T.W. Shannon. They are wrong and should be rejected by Oklahomans.
“The negative on-air advertisements and untruthful mail pieces against both Lankford and Shannon should stop. This race should be about the urgent threats to our future well-being, not the political goals of outside interest groups.”