Politics

Coal Miners Say They Were Duped By Amy McGrath To Appear In Anti-McConnell Attack Ad

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images and Jason Davis/Getty Images

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief

Coal miners Randy Robbins and Albrow Hall say they were duped into appearing in a political attack ad for Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath, who is hoping to oust Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from his Senate seat.

Their lawyers have written to McGrath expressing their outrage over being used for a political purpose when they say they were never told that was the intent of the video.

Coal miners reenact a bus ride to visit with Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. Opening scene from an attack ad by Democratic candidate Amy McGrath. YouTube screenshot.

Coal miners reenact a bus ride to visit with Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. Opening scene from an attack ad by Democratic candidate Amy McGrath. YouTube screenshot.

“Both Randy and Albrow were led to believe that the reenactment was being done for a documentary relating the work of the Black Lung Association. They did not know and were never told that they were being filmed for a political advertisement,”  reads a letter sent Wednesday to McGrath. “Randy and Albrow are not partisan political activists for either party. However, they are personally offended at seeing their images being used in a political attack ad that does not reflect their personal feelings or beliefs.” (RELATED: Amy McGrath To Challenge Mitch McConnell In Kentucky)

The letter demands that McGrath and her campaign “immediately cease and desist from the use of their personal images in any and all advertising and media.”

McGrath, a former Marine officer who is expected to take the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat, released a video entitled  “10 Hour Bus Ride,” that condemns McConnell for allegedly only spending one minute of his time to speak with miners suffering from black lung disease — an ailment that arises from the inhalation of coal dust over many years. The two miners are clearly visible in the opening scene on the bus.

The McGrath campaign is denying that they misinformed anyone about the intent of the video. “All of the miners were fully informed that they were being filmed for an ad and even signed up for McGrath hats and T-shirts,” Mark Nickolas, campaign manager for McGrath, told the Washington Free Beacon. Nickolas insists the campaign will continue to play the ad.

Lawyer Christopher Thacker refuted Nickolas’ narrative, telling the Free Beacon, “My clients don’t recall signing any release, and certainly not one making reference to a political campaign.”

“They would not have participated had they been aware that the footage was to be used for a partisan ad,” he said. (RELATED: GOP Rep Andy Barr Holds Off Democratic Star Amy McGrath In Kentucky Bellwether Race)

Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath appears in her political attack ad ‘10 Hour Bus Ride.’ YouTube screenshot

Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath appears in her political attack ad ‘10 Hour Bus Ride.’ YouTube screenshot

Despite being a highly touted challenger for the powerful and long-serving McConnell, McGrath has had a difficult transition from the military to political life. She flip-flopped twice over whether she would have confirmed Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice, first indicating her opposition, then saying she would have confirmed regardless and finally changing her mind again.

As well as cancelling an appearance on MSNBC literally minutes before broadcast, McGrath has also struggled to explain what she meant when she compared President Donald Trump’s election to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.