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Conservative PAC funds ad critical of Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto

A super PAC unveiled a $1.2 million ad buy on Sunday targeting Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democratic candidate in Nevada’s U.S. Senate race.

The ad, paid by a super PAC called Freedom Partners Action Fund, suggests Cortez Masto, while Nevada’s attorney general, put the interests of campaign donors from the taxi industry ahead of the state’s when ride-sharing company Uber began operating in the state in 2014.

Cortez Masto filed a temporary restraining order in 2014 against the company. The taxi and limousine industry donated more than $70,000 to her two campaigns for attorney general, according to the group’s research and campaign filings. She was elected in 2006 and 2010.

The ad buy covers digital and television advertising in Nevada. The ad will start airing on Wednesday and continue for three weeks.

The super PAC has ties to billionaires Charles Koch and David Koch, a pair of megadonors who give heavily to conservative causes and campaigns.

The 30-second spot, titled “Driving away jobs,” says, in part: “Many Nevadans turned to Uber for work. But, after accepting more than $70,000 from taxi companies, Catherine Cortez Masto went after Uber — once, twice, three times — until she drove them out of town, along with all their jobs. She put campaign donors ahead of Nevadans and protected special interests instead of us.”

Cortez Masto is running against U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., in the Senate race.

Cortez Masto’s campaign is vigorously fighting the ad’s suggestion that she led a legal fight against Uber because of the political influence wielded by campaign donors.

In a statement on Monday, her campaign said that at the time, ride-sharing companies were operating in Nevada without a license and the state’s Transportation Authority requested that the attorney general’s office “enforce the law to protect passenger safety.”

The campaign noted, accurately, that ride-sharing companies have since sought licensing through the state legislative process and now legally operate in Nevada.

Cortez Masto spokesman Zach Hudson called it a “desperate ad” that “outright lies about Catherine’s record.”

“Considering they support Congressman Heck, someone who is part of the dysfunction and gridlock in Washington, we guess it isn’t surprising that the Koch Brothers would attack Catherine Cortez Masto for actually doing her job,” Hudson said in a statement.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904. Find @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

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