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Dark money targets Plame in CD3 race

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Valerie Plame

Yet another dark money group has inserted itself into the race for northern New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District seat – this time targeting former CIA operative Valerie Plame with a pair of ads that call her a “disgraced racist millionaire.”

Plame is considered one of the favorites in the Democratic primary, which features seven candidates.

The ads – one in English and the other in Spanish – are produced by the Alliance to Combat Extremism, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. The ads started airing on such digital platforms as YouTube and Facebook on Tuesday, two weeks before the June 2 Democratic primary. They seize on several issues that have plagued Plame in the past, including her retweet of an anti-Semitic article titled “America’s Jews are Driving American Wars” that appeared on the blogging site Unz Review in 2017.

Plame later apologized for the retweet, saying she sometimes makes mistakes and that one was “a doozy.”

After that retweet, the ads say that former KKK leader David Duke and the Nazi website The Daily Stormer embraced Plame for standing up against Jews.

The ad in English zooms in on an image of Plame, swastikas superimposed over her eyes.

Contacted by the Journal, Plame called the ads “disgusting.”

“Our community is struggling to survive this pandemic and rebuild our economy. That will take all of us working together. Political campaigning of this nature is deplorable and not who we are as New Mexicans,” she said in an emailed statement. “In Congress, I will fight to mandate that groups that operate in the darkness must report their contributions so we know who is funding them. Groups who will do and say anything to get their candidate elected should tell the voters where their money comes from so they can hold them accountable. I won’t stop fighting for campaign finance reform and more fairness in elections if elected.”

Earlier this year, in an interview with an Israeli journalist, Plame said she had always been drawn to her Jewish heritage and was a member of a Jewish congregation. But the Journal reported afterward that a prominent member of the Temple Beth Shalom said she was not a member.

Plame also heralds herself as a product of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine in one of her TV ads.

Ian Sugar, who describes himself as a Democratic political operative and Jewish, is president of the Alliance to Combat Extremism, which was formed last fall.

“We feel that Valerie Plame poses a real unique threat, combining bigotry with celebrity,” he said in a phone interview. “This is not who Democrats are. We don’t nominate bigots. We don’t nominate people who as recently as 2017 made racist statements. We think that’s disqualifying.”

Sugar said the ad buy was in the low six figures, but wouldn’t disclose the donors.

During a candidate forum cosponsored by the Journal that aired on KOAT-TV on Sunday, another contender in the CD3 race, John Blair, called out opponent Teresa Leger Fernandez for the support she’s received from two dark money groups. He did it again in a news release Tuesday.

“I condemn these ads in the strongest possible terms,” Blair said. “This is why dark money has no place in New Mexico, and why I fought against these shady, secret groups as Deputy Secretary of State.”

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