ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Michelle Lujan Grisham’s congressional campaign on Monday threatened legal action against Comcast if the cable TV operator continues airing an attack ad paid for by an independent political action committee.
The campaign sent Comcast cable offices in Albuquerque a cease-and-desist letter demanding the TV operator stop airing a commercial that attacks Lujan Grisham for allegedly mismanaging the Fort Bayard nursing home near Silver City while working as state health secretary between 2004 and 2007.
Lujan Grisham’s campaign called the ad defamatory.
The commercial was funded by Progressive Kick, a California-based independent PAC that has distributed campaign materials in Albuquerque promoting opponent Eric Griego for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District.
The commercial says Lujan Grisham as health secretary “did nothing effective” at the scandal-plagued, state-run nursing home before the federal Department of Justice stepped in with a lawsuit in 2007.
Lujan Grisham’s campaign has said her administration worked to address problems at the Fort Bayard facility immediately after she took office as health secretary in 2004. Lujan Grisham said she worked cooperatively with the federal government to address issues with patient care.
Progressive Kick President Joshua Grossman defended his group’s ad. He said that regardless of Lujan Grisham’s efforts at Fort Bayard, the issue wasn’t resolved until after the federal government sued in 2007.
“If it’s truthful, it’s not defamatory. … We didn’t say anything false,” Grossman said.
Grossman said his ads are not associated with Griego’s campaign. The group is spending about $21,000 to air the commercial in Albuquerque.
Sandra Grisham, Lujan Grisham’s attorney and sister-in-law, said she had not received a response from Comcast officials.
Lujan Grisham’s campaign unveiled its own attack ad Monday, criticizing Griego for a history of 11 arrest warrants related to traffic citations.
Griego has paid all the fines and regrets having racked up the warrants between 2000 and 2007, his campaign manager said.
The heated exchanges come with Griego and Lujan Grisham running in a dead heat for the Democratic nomination to the 1st Congressional District seat in next week’s primary.
A Journal Poll released Sunday found that the candidates were tied with 33 percent support each and 14 percent of voters undecided in the May 21-24 survey. Former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chávez, the third Democratic candidate in the race, had 20 percent of the voter support.
— This article appeared on page C01 of the Albuquerque Journal