Danny Tarkanian's campaign filed a federal election complaint Thursday, charging that Steven Horsford and a Democratic Party group skirted the law in order to get an ad on the air in the closing days of their race for Congress.
The Republican complaint alleges Horsford and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee devised a television ad that promotes Horsford, and in the process makes references to other Democrats.
Hybrid ads are not uncommon. Democrats say they were pioneered by the 2004 campaign of George W. Bush, and have been utilized by Mitt Romney as well this year.
“Hybrid ads are perfectly legal,” a Democratic Party staffer in Washington said Thursday evening.
But Tarkanian attorney Ronald Jacobs said in the complaint the 30-second Nevada commercial was tilted so much to Horsford to the point it did not meet the threshold for a hybrid ad that would allow the DCCC to pay as much as it appeared from campaign filings.
"It appears that the DCCC has funded anywhere from about two-thirds to one-half of the costs to air this advertisement." The complaint said the Democratic organization "potentially paid over $800,000 for what is a $1.3 million ad buy."
Republicans said the Federal Election Commission should declare the ad to be an illegal in-kind contribution from the DCCC to Horsford, in excess of the $45,600 a party group is allowed to spend in coordination with a House candidate.
Horsford's lawyers were preparing a response on Thursday evening, his campaign spokesman said. Press secretary Tim Hogan said the Tarkanian complaint "is a last ditch and bogus effort to distract voters in this election."
“If Danny Tarkanian has a problem with ads that advance Democratic ideals, he should take it up with Mitt Romney and George W. Bush who did this same type of ads," said Jesse Ferguson, DCCC communications director.
Both the Tarkanian and the Horsford camps now have marched to the Federal Election Commission with finance complaints, even though the agency will not investigate until after Tuesday's elections, and may end up dismissing them anyway.
The Nevada State Democratic Party has filed multiple FEC complaints charging Tarkanian with election law violations related to incomplete and apparently sloppy bookkeeping and improper reporting of his contributions.
Horsford also has asked the Nevada Gaming Control Board to look into a raffle the Tarkanian campaign had advertised on Twitter offering donors the chance to attend a UNLV game with Jerry Tarkanian, the candidate's father and former UNLV basketball coach.