GOP Senate Candidate Uses Foley Execution Video In Campaign Ad

CREDIT: AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

Slain U.S. photojournalist James Foley, in a picture from 2011.

A Republican candidate for Senate on Monday posted a campaign video online that includes a still image from the video released last week which showed the execution of American journalist James Foley.

Senate candidate Allen Weh is running as the GOP candidate against first-term Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM). In the ad published on YouTube this Monday, titled “Restored Leadership,” intersperses audio of Udall and President Obama speaking about the strains of the presidency and the need for diplomatic solutions with images of chaos from the Middle East and Ukraine and footage of Obama in relaxed settings. “To change Washington, you must change your senator,” the ad implores.

The image used in Weh's campaign video

The image used in Weh’s campaign video

CREDIT: Screenshot/YouTube

But one frame — on screen for just a few seconds — appears to show the black-clad member of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) that was featured in Foley’s grisly execution video. Foley is cropped out of the image, which shows the jihadi brandishing a knife. The man with a British accent who narrated the video and demanded that Obama end the airstrikes the U.S. is currently conducting against ISIS has yet to be named. But the image of him in a campaign video is easily identified.

Since its release last week, there has been a debate among both news organizations and social media consumers about whether the video should be available for viewing both for its graphic nature and its role in ISIS propaganda. Weh, a former candidate for New Mexico governor and a retired Marine Corps veteran running in a race that is considered safe for Udall, does not appear in the video himself. Nor does he make the now common declaration of approval that candidates make in ads that air on the radio or television. It does note that Weh approved the message in a small banner that appears at the end of the ad.

“James Foley’s death is a tragedy, and to use his killer’s horrific image for personal gain in a campaign ad is reprehensible and appalling,” Udall campaign manager Daniel Sena said in a statement. “If Allen Weh wants to talk about the issues with New Mexico voters, he should find a way to do it that is respectful and substantive. Using James Foley’s horrific and tragic death for shock value is offensive to Mr. Foley’s family, New Mexico voters and the rest of our country.”

“Out of respect for the Foley family, no picture of James Foley was used,” Deigo Espinoza, Weh’s campaign manager, said in an email to ThinkProgress when asked about the decision to use the Foley video in an ad. “Tom Udall’s feigned outrage over the inclusion of a now familiar image of this Jihadi terrorist, who is clearly the face of the evil that threatens our nation. Senator Udall’s comments about our diplomacy being ‘good’ reflect his naiveté and inexperience in matters of national security.”

The Foley family had no comment on the Weh campaign ad when ThinkProgress reached them. (HT: Chris Hayes)


This article has been updated to include statements from both campaigns.

Share Update