Georgia senate candidate David Perdue told a local radio station on Friday that his Democratic opponent Michelle Nunn may be associated with terrorist organizations though he later admitted that his campaign did not investigate the charge.
Using tactics that resemble outgoing Sen. Sexby Chambliss’ (R) successful 2002 campaign to portray Vietnam veteran Max Cleland as a sympathizer of Osama Bin Laden, Perdue has been airing a television ad that accuses Nunn of funding “organizations linked to terrorists” during her tenure at Points of Light, a volunteer organization founded by former President George H. W. Bush.
“I mean this ad that we had is straight out of Michelle Nunn’s own campaign plan,” Perdue said during an interview on WGAU (1360 AM) Friday. Asked directly “Do you believe Michelle Nunn is in any way associated with terrorist organizations?” Perdue responded, “Well, that’s what it says in their plan.”
The charge does come from Nunn’s own campaign strategy, which was leaked to the press in July. But in that memo, strategists for Nunn tried to anticipate the attacks her Republican opponents might use against her and prepared pushback messages for the candidate. The document does not claim that the terrorist connection is legitimate.
In 2003, MissionFish, an arm of Points of Light, signed an agreement with Ebay that would allow users to donate to charities through MissionFish on a tax-exempt basis. One of the thousands of charities verified by MissionFish is Islamic Relief USA, a group that is not listed on any terrorist watch lists and “remains an eBay Giving Works-approved charity.” Earlier this year, Israel accused a separate organization, Islamic Relief Worldwide, of funding Hamas, though Islamic Relief USA was in no way implicated in the order. Islamic Relief USA says it’s an independent organization that “delivers aid both through its own independent grants and partnerships and through the funding of programs run by Islamic Relief Worldwide field offices in developing countries.”
Neil Bush, son of President George H.W. Bush and chairman of Points of Light, has called on Perdue to renounce the spot. “To attack an organization founded by my father, whose integrity is unimpeachable, to smear our organization for political gain, is in my opinion shameful,” Bush said. Nunn has also produced an advertisement that tries to shame Perude for the attack.
But the businessman isn’t backing down. During an interview with a local NBC affiliate, Perdue dismissed the findings of fact checkers who have called the charge bogus, saying, “the people who debunked it, I’m not sure they’ve investigated.” Asked if his campaign has looked into the charge before producing the ad, Perdue admitted that it had not. “No, that came out of her plan,” he reiterated.