Ad accuses Sen. Sherrod Brown of domestic violence; ex-wife calls it ‘shameless’

Republican challenger Jim Renacci says Brown’s ‘well–documented history of domestic violence is deeply troubling.’

An independent organization linked to the Republican Party is dredging up decades-old allegations of domestic abuse against Sen. Sherrod Brown, which prompted his former wife to say the use of her divorce records by the Republicans was “shameless” and “disgusting.”

The organization, known as MeTooOhio, is spending less than $100,000 to show a 60-second commercial digitally to resurrect allegations that Brown in the 1980s physically abused his then-wife Larke Recchie.

The group filed organization papers with the Federal Election Commission just last week ad lists its address in Alexandria, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C. The group’s chief spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, has a Washington, D.C., phone number and is a former adviser to the GOP presidential campaigns of Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz.

In an interview, Stewart said there was no coordination between her group and Senate Republican candidate Jim Renacci, a Republican congressman from Wadsworth.

But after the video was made public by the Daily Caller web site in Washington, Renacci charged “Brown’s well–documented history of domestic violence is deeply troubling. Ohioans deserve to know all the facts, and judge his fitness for public office for themselves.”

The ad resuscitates charges made in 2012 by Senate Republican candidate Josh Mandel in his unsuccessful race against Brown.

The Brown campaign, which long anticipated Republicans would attempt to inject his first marriage into the race, released a statement from Larke Recchie saying “this isn’t the first time someone has gone after my family to score cheap political points.”

“I’m dismayed that Congressman Renacci would do something this shameless, despite the fact that I’ve already addressed this matter,” Recchie said.

“I was proud to support Sherrod in 2006 and 2012 — just as I am this time around,” she said. “Anyone who suggests he is not an honorable man is just wrong.”

“He’s a great father to our daughters Emily and Liz and he’s a wonderful grandfather to our grandchildren,” she said. “Disparaging my family for political gain is disgusting, and Congressman Renacci should know better.”

Recchie and her husband Joe held a fund-raiser in their central Ohio home last weekend for Brown’s re–election campaign.

Brett Buerck, a former Ohio Republican Party official who heads up Majority Strategies, a political consulting firm in Florida, acknowledged his company “is serving as the digital and direct mail consultant for” MeTooOhio.

“The focus here needs to be on Sherrod Brown’s actions, not who the vendors are on a project,” Buerck said in a statement. “Relegating this to a process story about campaign operations diminishes the important stories victims of domestic violence have a right to tell."

Majority Strategies has done printing and production work for Renacci’s Senate campaign. Asked about their involvement in the ad, a spokesman for Majority Strategies said the organization’s long-standing policy is not to confirm or deny any media requests.

The commercial was unveiled at a time when the Renacci campaign is floundering. Renacci is being badly outspent in TV commercials by Brown, who is seeking his third term in the Senate. In addition, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has declined so far to endorse Renacci, who is an enthusiastic supporter of President Donald Trump.

Even though little money was spent on the commercial, the clear aim by Republicans was to encourage news organizations to write about Brown’s first marriage in an effort to damage his re-election prospects.

Leslie Shedd, a spokeswoman for the Renacci campaign, said to her “knowledge Larke has not refuted her allegations. There is a difference between forgiving someone and recanting statement you have made under oath.”

However when Republicans used the same charges against Brown in a 1992 House race, Recchie was quoted as saying: “Divorce can often be an unfriendly ordeal, and ours was no exception. There was a lot of hurt on both sides, and it led only to angry words.”

Records from the 1986 divorce stand in stark contrast to a Tweet posted by Recchie from April 27 of this year: It shows Recchie and her husband Joe and Brown and his wife Connie Schultz in a raucous group shot on Grandparents Day at one of the grandchildren's school. "So much fun!" she tweeted of the photo, which was a retweet of a photo Schultz had posted.
The commercial included video of comedian Chelsea Handler saying "every victim deserves to be heard." Handler tweeted: Hey Congressman Renacci -- please don't use me in attack ads against candidates I support."

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