Sex offender issue stars in three US Senate TV ads

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, left, and Deborah Ross
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, left, and Deborah Ross

Democrat Deborah Ross’ decades-old comments about the sex offender registry are the focus of three new commercials released Tuesday, one of which is a rebuttal from the Ross campaign.

Both Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr’s campaign and the Senate Leadership Fund – a super PAC is connected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – posted attack ads that used the sex offender issue to question Ross’ commitment to protecting children. The campaign and the super PAC are legally required to operate separately.

In a memo Ross wrote to ACLU members while leading the group in the mid-1990s, she said the registry “would make it even harder for people to reintegrate into society and start over and could lead to vigilantism.” She also argued that the registry might harm victims who were abused by family members because the victims’ names could become public by association.

But Ross said she’s always supported the registry and later voted repeatedly to strengthen it as a state legislator.

Still, the issue appears to be the main line of attack from Burr’s campaigns and outside groups backing him.

The Senate Leadership Fund ad says Ross “puts her left-wing ideas ahead of our families” and that her policies are “good for criminals, not North Carolina families.” The super PAC is spending $8.1 million on TV ads to help Burr.

Burr’s ad features a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps who was raped. Sgt. Kelly Lowe says Ross “wants to protect sexual predators over victims.”

The Ross campaign was quick to hit back Tuesday, releasing its own ad on the topic that features the state senator who sponsored the sex offender registry law.

“Sen. Burr is flat-out lying and that’s why people hate politics,” former Sen. Fountain Odom, a Charlotte Democrat, says in the ad. “Deborah not only supports the sex offender registry, she worked to make it stronger.”