Koch brothers-backed groups launch mailers, videos opposing Cortez Masto in US Senate race

Two political groups backed by prominent conservatives Charles and David Koch have launched attack mailers and digital videos opposing Nevada Democratic candidate Catherine Cortez Masto in the U.S. Senate race.

The efforts are coming from two nonprofit political organizations, LIBRE Initiative, which is focused on reaching out to Latinos, and Americans For Prosperity.

The conservative groups, which aren’t affiliated with the campaign of her opponent, U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., have focused on down-ballot races this election cycle , particularly the race for the seat of outgoing U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, which could determine whether Republicans hold their majority in the Senate.

Cortez Masto, Nevada’s former attorney general, and Heck, also a doctor and a brigadier general in the Army Reserve, are locked in a competitive race. Outside groups on both sides are pouring millions of dollars into the contest.

The LIBRE Initiative, in its ad, urges Latino voters to reject Cortez Masto because she opposes Nevada’s education savings account program, which lets parents put their children’s public education funding toward private school tuition.

The education savings account program is under fire; a lawsuit seeks to overturn it.

Americans For Prosperity accuses Cortez Masto of forcing ride-sharing company Uber out of Nevada and ties that to her receiving more than $70,000 in campaign donations from the taxi industry.

The mailers will reach upward of 200,000 people, a figure that’s constantly changing, Americans For Prosperity Nevada state director Adam Jones said.

“Our mail program is fired up and ready to go, so we’ll be actively in mailboxes from now until the election,” Jones said. “This is the first wave. We’re going to be aggressively educating voters.”

Cortez Masto’s campaign has pushed against ads similar to Americans for Prosperity’s in the past, adding details and context about Uber and Cortez Masto’s tenure as attorney general.

For instance, her campaign notes, the Nevada Transportation Authority, which is represented in court by the attorney general’s office, unanimously supported seeking a restraining order against Uber in 2014, which was then operating illegally. A judge granted the order.

Uber now operates legally in Nevada, following the passage of a state law in 2015.

Mairead Lynn, press secretary with the Nevada State Democratic Party, said the new attack ads are an attempt to distract from Heck’s record of voting with the Koch brothers’ “billionaire interests almost 90 percent of the time.” Furthermore, Lynn said, the ads’ assertions have been debunked by media outlets and nonpartisan fact-checking organizations.

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

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