Debbie Halvorson, a candidate for Jesse Jackson Jr's old congressional seat accused her top opponent -- Robin Kelly -- of improperly colluding with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's SuperPac.
Halvorson held a morning news conference calling out Bloomberg for pouring $1.4 million into attack ads that specifically target Halvorson, who opposes an assault weapons ban. Last week, the attack ads expanded, hitting Toi Hutchinson as well. Hutchinson has had a previous high rating with the NRA but had flipped on the issue, now supporting a ban. That change though, came after Hutchinson ran for congressional office. Halvorson said she supports "common sense" laws to combat gun violence, including universal background checks and a federal gun trafficking law.
"We cannot allow Bloomberg to buy this district from New York," Halvorson said.
Halvorson cited a Capitol Fax article published Feb. 1 that said Robin Kelly was telling donors that her strategy involved allowing Bloomberg to target both Halvorson and Toi Hutchinson. The article cited an anonymous source.
Halvorson said she is raising the issue now because Hutchinson dropped out of the race on Sunday.
"All of this truly raises eyebrows and questions surrounding Bloomberg's attempt to purchase this election," Halvorson said. "The Kelly campaign continues to hide behind Mayor Bloomberg. Our district has been fooled by the sounds of "honesty and integrity" for far too long. We don't need another public relations campaign designed to hide unethical behavior."
The Kelly campaign responded in a release charging that Halvorson had gone "off the rails."
"Halvorson has made a series of bizarre, unsubstantiated claims to the media is recent days, indicating her campaign has reached a new level of desperation," said a Kelly campaign statement. "These wild accusations have no basis in reality, and are an attempt to distract the voters from the dominant issue in this campaign: gun violence."
For its part, the Bloomberg SuperPac, Independence USA, is preparing to spend up to $2 million in the race. The political action committee aims to target candidates that it feels are not strong on the gun issue.
Last week, Stefan Friedman, spokesman for Independence USA
PAC told the Sun-Times:
"The scourge of gun violence knows no state boundaries, and Mayor
Bloomberg has been clear that whether it's in New York, Illinois,
California or anywhere else, he is committed to getting guns out of the
hands of criminals by supporting President Obama's gun safety package.
Debbie Halvorson opposes President Obama's proposal, and it is important
that voters get the facts about her record."
Another candidate in the race, Ald. Anthony Beale, charged Sunday that he had done more to combat gun violence than Kelly.