National Republicans are hitting Miami Democratic congressional candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell's connections to an Eastern European oligarch dogged by allegations of contract killings and embezzlement.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, an organization that seeks to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives, is out with a 30-second TV ad titled "Connection" that seeks to tie Mucarsel-Powell to Ihor Kolomoisky, a Ukrainian oligarch who owned a Miami-based company where Mucarsel-Powell's husband Robert worked as their general counsel. In federal financial disclosures, Mucarsel-Powell reported at least $695,000 in income from a ferroalloys trading corporation associated with Kolomoisky.
The ad began running in the Miami media market today and an NRCC spokesperson said there is $192,000 behind the ad this week and close to $359,000 behind the ad set for next week. Mucarsel-Powell is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo for the most Democratic-leaning seat represented by a Republican running for reelection in 2018.
"This is Ihor Kolomoisky a shady Ukrianian militia leader accused of bribery, embezzlement and even murder," the ad's narrator says. "And this is Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, candidate for Congress. What's the connection? Mucarsel-Powell's family got rich working for Kolomoisky's businesses and Mucarsel-Powell's campaign has received thousands in contributions from Kolomoisky's associates. Shady money from a shady foreign syndicate, that's Debbie Mucarsel-Powell."
The term "militia leader" refers to Kolomoisky's private army he paid for to help the Ukrainian government fight against pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine in 2015, though multiple reports say members of his private army stormed into the headquarters of a state-owned oil company after the company's chairman, an ally of Kolomoisky, was fired. At the time Kolomoisky was the governor of a province in Eastern Ukraine.
Mucarsel-Powell's campaign called the NRCC spot "a complete lie."
"The facts are clear: Carlos Curbelo voted for Donald Trump's health care plan, he voted 10 times to take away health care access from 100,000 families in our district, and he won't stand up to Donald Trump and the NRA to reduce gun violence in our community," Mucarsel-Powell spokesperson Mike Hernandez said in a statement. "Debbie's plan is based on her values as an immigrant who lost her father to gun violence, and who has spent a career in our community expanding access to health care. As a member of Congress, she'll fight to provide quality, affordable health care to every family and stand up to the NRA to end gun violence in our community."
Curbelo ran his first TV ad of the cycle a few weeks ago and maintains a cash on hand advantage over Mucarsel-Powell in an environment where many Democratic challengers nationwide are outraising Republican incumbents. The race is expected to draw millions in advertising from outside groups.
Watch the ad below: