Pryor campaign agrees to edit tornado video after property owner complaint

WASHINGTON — Sen. Mark Pryor’s re-election campaign edited an online campaign ad on Tuesday after the owner of the Mayflower RV property complained that he disapproved of the filming.

“The Pryor campaign is going to honor his request and edit the footage out of respect,” said Grant Herring, a campaign spokesman.

Doug Boydston, the property owner, said Tuesday that he was glad Pryor’s campaign was removing the footage but still angry that the two-term Democrat had used the disaster in Mayflower to go after Republican challenger Rep. Tom Cotton.

“I think it is wrong for them to be playing political football over my tragedy,” he said in a telephone interview.

Boydston agreed in late June to allow the Pryor campaign on the property where debris from the tornado is still visible. Boydston said that he was not aware that they would be filming a campaign ad. Instead, he thought they were there to draw attention to his plight.

A day before the filming, Boydston posted on his Facebook page encouraging friends to show up for the event where Pryor and local officials would be “taking footage of the cleanup effort.” Boydston’s Facebook posts also show him to be a political conservative.

Mayflower Mayor Randy Holland, who is featured in the campaign ad, said that he had agreed to appear in the commercial to say that Cotton had not called or appeared in Mayflower since the tornado struck.

“That was just the fact,” he said.

Cotton’s congressional district does not include Mayflower but as a candidate for statewide office Holland said he should have shown up. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, represents Mayflower in Congress and was in the city shortly after the tornado swept through it.

When the filming began that Friday, Holland said that Boydston’s wife was upset and asked them all to leave.

“My understanding was that (Doug Boydston) said it was OK to film. They were setting up equipment and his wife came down and said she wanted us all off the property. That was basically it,” Holland said in a telephone interview.

Boydston said he spoke with the Pryor campaign that day and told them not to use the footage from his property in any political ad but last week the Pryor campaign posted a video online that highlighted Cotton’s absence from Mayflower.

“I was so upset over it that I thought Mr. Cotton’s office ought to know what is going on,” Boydston said.

Pryor’s campaign said that it told Boydston from the start that its intention was to film a campaign message.

The Cotton campaign issued a press release on Tuesday slamming Pryor for using the footage.

Meanwhile, both campaigns announced new ads that are running in Arkansas.

Cotton’s ad is looking to answer charges from the Pryor campaign that he voted against disaster relief funding in Congress that is now needed in Arkansas.

Pryor’s ad focuses on the backlash that Cotton faced last week after he questioned the depth of Pryor’s faith.