ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Anchorage television station has taken full blame for accidentally airing a commercial for U.S. Sen. Mark Begich that the campaign had pulled because it had sparked outrage.
"One-hundred percent our error," said Andy Tierney, the national sales manager for CBS affiliate KTVA.
The snafu caused the commercial to be aired during the "Daybreak" morning news program, reigniting a contentious subject in the waning days of the campaign. Republicans see Begich's seat as vulnerable and key to their hopes of picking up six seats to gain control of the Senate.
Begich ran the commercial during Labor Day weekend. It attempted to portray Begich's Republican opponent, former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan, as soft on crime.
The commercial featured a man identified as a former Anchorage police officer standing outside the home where an elderly couple was beaten to death and a family member sexually abused in 2013. It ended with the man saying Sullivan shouldn't be a senator.
Sullivan responded with his own commercial, accusing Begich of trying to use the case for political gain.
The suspect wasn't named in Begich's ad, but Sullivan's commercials did when he said he "personally put criminals away for life, and that's exactly where Jerry Active belongs."
Active is scheduled for trial the week of Dec. 8.
Tierney said the commercial mix-up came as an operator put in the wrong code for a different Begich commercial into the station's computer system. The two ads have similar codes, and the wrong one was put in.
"It was complete operator error on our part," Tierney said. "The Begich campaign had nothing to do with it."
The state Republican party and other partisan national groups sought to seize on the mistake as a deliberate attempt by Begich to run the ads again.
But after being informed the station took responsibility, Alaska Republican Party Chairman Peter S. Goldberg said Begich still played a role in the air being aired.
"Irrespective of how Begich's disgraceful ad ended up on television today, it should have never been produced because it was a lie. The reason that ad is even in existence starts and ends with one person: Mark Begich," he told The Associated Press.
A Begich spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.