Second GOP senator caught secretly using party operative in campaign ad


Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) both used operatives in television ads touting their health care records.

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) released a new campaign ad on Thursday, but he failed to disclose that a woman featured in it is a longtime GOP operative with close ties to the Georgia Republican Party.

After Perdue spoke directly to the camera about the need to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs, Janelle King, a woman identified only as a resident of Sandy Springs, Georgia, praised Perdue.

"We need this done. And if anyone can do it, it's Sen. Perdue," King said. "What a difference he's making for us."

At no time did the ad disclose that King previously worked as the deputy state and data director of the Georgia Republican Party, a field director for former Rep. Karen Handel's campaign, and as a consultant for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's 2018 campaign, according to her LinkedIn page.

King currently appears as a panelist for the "Georgia Gang" show on a local Fox affiliate in Atlanta. A biography for the station describes her as "a rising star in the world of conservative politics in Georgia" who works as "a consultant to the GOP for community engagement, public affairs, and diversity initiatives."

The Perdue campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) was also caught using an undisclosed political operative in a campaign ad.

McSally's ad featured Kristen Douglas, one of her former staffers. Douglas lied about McSally's health care record, falsely claiming McSally will "make sure that people with preexisting conditions are insured," despite McSally voting numerous times against protections for people with preexisting conditions.

Health care is a top issue for voters in the 2020 election. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from April, 88% of registered voters consider health care either "very important" or "somewhat important" when deciding who to vote for in the presidential election.

Perdue has been a vocal supporter of a GOP-led lawsuit to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. If successful, the lawsuit would result in 23 million people losing health insurance, eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions, and young adults would no longer be allowed to remain on their parents' health insurance even as the nation is in the middle of a health crisis.

As of Friday, the United States had more than 4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 144,283 people have died.

When asked about the lawsuit in July, Perdue said he supports the lawsuit, calling the ACA an "abomination."

Perdue, a first-term senator, faces a close reelection race against Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff. An average of recent polls shows Perdue with a 4-point lead over Ossoff, but the Cook Political Report recently changed its categorization of the race from "Lean Republican" to "Toss Up."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.