ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan is being slammed in a new TV ad airing in Fairbanks for support he's drawn from an outside group linked to the industrial Koch brothers.
The ad campaign is backed by $165,000 from a national firefighters' union group, Alaska Dispatch News (http://is.gd/u7nmXk) reported.
The ad touches on what supporters of Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Begich describe as populist outrage following the closing of a North Pole refinery owned by Flint Hills Resources, a Koch-controlled company.
"These billionaire Koch brothers are killing Alaskan jobs, shuttin' down our refinery," Fairbanks firefighter Shayne Wescott says in the ad.
It's unclear how much the message resonates in the area. Democratic state Rep. Scott Kawasaki said he doesn't think that the general population really knows who the brothers are.
"I wouldn't know what they look like if they were in the same room as me," Kawasaki said.
Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that David and Charles Koch helped found, has launched a $1 million ad campaign against Begich.
Altogether, the organization plans to spend more than $125 million this year on behalf of conservative causes and has run political ads attacking other Democratic candidates outside Alaska.
Democrats across the country have seized on the brothers' ties to that organization and other national political groups.
"I tend to gloss over when the Koch brothers are mentioned," said Brad Dayspring with the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "Every Democratic candidate mentions it."
Jeff Cook, a spokesman for Koch industries, said the firefighters' ad contains false attacks. Cook said that many of the employees affected by the North Pole refinery closure had been offered jobs at other locations. The shut-down reduced the number of workers from 125 to about 35 workers, who still operate a fuel shipping and receiving terminal at the site.
Cook said David and Charles Koch were not directly involved in the refinery closure decision, although they were notified about it.
Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, http://www.adn.com
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