New Republican TV ad hits Angie Craig in rematch against Jason Lewis

A new Republican television ad in the hotly-contested Second Congressional District accuses Democrat Angie Craig of “amassing millions in ill-gotten gains” during her career as a medical device company executive for a company with a “long history of lawsuits and corporate corruption.”

Craig responded that the ad sponsored by the National Republican Congressional Committee makes “false and misleading claims” about business decisions she “never had anything to do with.”

Angie Craig, Democratic candidate for 2nd Congressional District in 2016. (Courtesy photo)

The TV spot marks a change in the tone in the rematch between Craig and Republican Rep. Jason Lewis, who narrowly defeated her in the 2016 election in the swing district south of the Twin Cities.

Jason Lewis (file photo)

Craig and Lewis both aired positive campaign ads earlier this week touting their positions on issues without mentioning their opponents. The NRCC spot is the first attack ad in one of the most closely watched races in the country.

Democratic-aligned groups have said they plan to wage TV ad campaigns targeting Lewis and other vulnerable Republicans this fall.

The anti-Craig ad refers to corporate transgressions by two of her previous employers, Smith & Nephew, a London-based medical technology firm, and St. Jude Medical of Little Canada.

The spot refers to them as “her company,” but she didn’t own them, Craig campaign manager Mara Kunin said in a statement. “She was an employee of both companies.”

Among the charges, the NRCC accused the companies of “falsifying sales and financial statements to defraud investors,” citing in a background sheet a 2010 class action lawsuit against St. Jude.

Craig’s campaign said she worked in media relations and human resources and never had anything to do with sales or the company’s financial statements.

The ad also said her former firm discriminated against minorities in hiring, noting a 2010 discrimination lawsuit against Smith and Nephew. Craig responded she didn’t have a say in the company’s hiring practices, and the lawsuit was filed and settled after she left the business.

In a final claim, the ad suggests Craig was “caught bribing foreign officials.” The NRCC cited a 2012 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission complaint against Smith & Nephew alleging its subsidiaries bribed public doctors in Greece to win business.

Craig replied she never worked with foreign vendors and never was party to an SEC investigation.

Lewis’s campaign has painted Craig as a millionaire corporate executive, but his campaign manager, Becky Alery, said the campaign did not coordinate messages with the NRCC.

But Alery welcomed the national GOP support. “It shows they believe in Congressman Lewis,” she said.

Lewis’ first TV ad, which started airing Tuesday, portrays him as an “independent voice” who works with both parties and has stood up to Republican leaders on such issues as spending, wireless wiretaps and criminal justice reform.

Lewis, the former conservative talk radio host who called himself Minnesota’s “Mr. Right,” apparently is trying to persuade voters that he’s not too far right for the predominantly suburban district that is evenly split between the parties.

But Craig contends he has marched in lockstep with President Trump and Republican congressional leaders during his first term in the House. Her campaign noted that Lewis voted in line with Trump 91 percent of the time, according to the non-partisan data analysis outfit FiveThirtyEight, and the non-profit news service ProPublica reported he voted with House Republicans 96 percent of the time.

“Given these facts, it’s clear he is not an independent voice in Congress,” Craig spokeswoman Allie Wright wrote in an email.

After re-introducing herself to Second District voters in a TV spot last month, Craig started airing a second ad this week focusing on the need to expand vocational-technical and apprenticeship programs.

That’s an issue that conservatives, including Lewis, have championed, contending that not all young people need four-year college degrees to land good-paying jobs.

Wright said Craig has long worked with both St. Jude and programs in the south metro suburbs to open pathways to manufacturing jobs.

Lewis has been a strong advocate for career and technical training in Congress and has promoted related programs in his district.

“Angie Craig appears to be trying to take credit for something Congressman Lewis has already done,” his campaign manager Alery said.

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