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Republican Party files FEC complaint about Sherrod Brown ad

The Ohio Republican Party Monday issued a formal complaint to the Federal Election Commission about Sen. Sherrod Brown’s most recent campaign ad.

The ad, called “Disheveled,” features a handful of Whirlpool Corporation employees, some wearing the corporate logo, standing in front of their company talking about Brown.

Related: Whirlpool asks Sen. Brown to change new ad

The ad jokes about Brown’s “rumpled” and “disheveled” appearance before cutting to one Whirlpool employee who says, “we make washing machines and Sherrod Brown looks great to us.” The ad concludes with Brown standing in front of the Whirlpool Corporation’s sign while a handful of Whirlpool employees walk behind him and compliment him. Whirlpool later asked Brown’s campaign to ad a disclaimer acknowledging that the ad did not indicate that the entire corporation had endorsed him; Brown added the disclaimer.

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The Republicans’ complaint is that by featuring the Whirlpool brand so prominently, Brown’s campaign is receiving an “impermissible in–kind contribution from a prohibited source.” Such a contribution, they argue, is a “serious violation” of federal campaign law, which bars such contributions, and say the disclaimer “does nothing to correct for the advertisement’s repeated use of a valuable corporate trademark, including the mark’s visibility on employees’ shirts and on the sign featured multiple times throughout the ad.”

They also argue that in addition to violating federal law, “Sherrod Brown’s campaign has grossly mischaracterized his record and attempted to take credit for President Trump’s trade policies,” according to Ohio Republican Party executive director Rob Secaur.

“If it were up to Sherrod Brown, Hillary Clinton would be President, federal agencies would not be rolling back excessive regulations, and Ohio workers would not be saving nearly $2,000 this year thanks to the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.”

“By running this ad, Sherrod Brown has knowingly accepted an illegal corporate campaign contribution plain and simple,” said Leslie Shedd, a Renacci campaign spokeswoman. “After 25 years in Washington, it’s no surprise liberal career politician Sherrod Brown thinks the rules don’t apply to him. Now that he’s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Sherrod Brown needs to apologize to voters for violating their trust.”

Countered Preston Maddock, a Brown spokesman: “It’s ironic that the candidate who is being flown around by a strip club owner on a private plane is attacking Sherrod’s record of standing up for Ohio’s manufacturing workers.”

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