AARP wants no part in Arkansas Senate ads


WASHINGTON – The Arkansas AARP wants no role – not even a cameo appearance – in political advertising.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization said Wednesday that it did not authorize the use of its name in two political advertisements now airing in Arkansas.

“We just think it is very, very important for our members and the voting public to know we have nothing to do with the ad,” AARP Arkansas State Director Maria Reynolds-Diaz said in a telephone interview.

Reynolds-Diaz said that AARP makes no candidate endorsements, has no political action committee and does not contribute to political campaigns or candidates. AARP does provide information on where candidates stand on issues so that voters can make their own decisions on Election Day.

The group issued press releases on Wednesday to notify the public that the Senate Majority PAC and Mark Pryor for U.S. Senate were not authorized to use AARP in their advertising.

Both ads are critical of Senate Republican candidate Tom Cotton who is challenging incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., for re-election this fall.

There is no legal requirement that the groups get permission to cite AARP press releases as sources to back up their criticism of Republican proposals to reform Medicare.

Pryor’s campaign is airing an advertisement entitle “Cuts” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_pDvk-b8nY&feature=youtu.be that quotes a 2014 AARP press release complaining that the House Republican budget plan would remove “the Medicare guarantee of affordable health coverage.”

The Senate Majority PAC is running an advertisement independent of the campaign entitled “Connect the Dots” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ea0-Sx8iEus&feature=youtu.be quoting a 2011 AARP press release that a similar GOP budget proposal was “Undermining Medicare’s Promise.”

Pryor’s campaign defended the use of AARP’s press release in its advertisement.

“We respect AARP’s independence as a nonpartisan advocate for seniors, which is why we chose to highlight their view that the plan Congressman Cotton supported ends the guarantee of affordable health coverage for older Americans,” said Erik Dorey, deputy campaign manager.