A series of online ads designed by the National Republican Congressional Committee drew criticism Wednesday from U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart's campaign, which says the ads deceitfully look like news websites.
The NRCC launched about two dozen websites in competitive election districts targeting Democrats, including Enyart, a Belleville Democrat seeking re-election in 12th U.S. House District, and Ann Callis, who is running for the Illinois 13th Congressional District seat against U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville.
Enyart's campaign adviser, Jason Bresler, said the websites look like content generated by local news sources, but the information on the sites is false or misleading.
"One of our country's greatest strengths is freedom of the press," Bresler said. "For the Republicans to mock that -- it's offensive. It's a slap in the face to the military men and women who protect these freedoms each day."
Bresler asked that Enyart's opponent, state Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, issue an apology for making "a mockery of journalism."
John Weber, a spokesman for the Bost campaign, said local Republican campaigns have no control over the NRCC's independent expenditures.
"It's not us. We're in no way involved with it," Weber said. "They just do it and we have no idea it's coming."
In a statement, Weber said: "Bill Enyart needs to stop worrying about what Washington D.C. does and start worrying about folks in southern Illinois. It's a fact that he owes them an apology for supporting Obamacare to the hilt, voting against veterans funding and wasting millions in taxpayer dollars."
Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesman for the NRCC, said the ads are "real attack sites" as part of a paid digital effort reaching voters through online search apps.
"I do not believe these are deceptive and I do not believe these look like news sites," Scarpinato said. "Campaigning in the 21st century means reaching voters online... I think it's pretty clear to the voters that the content is not supportive of Bill Enyart and, again, I can understand why he wouldn't want this information out there, but we want to make sure voters hear this perspective."
The NRCC's "Southern Illinois Update" can be seen at www.electionupdate2014.com/il12 and the "Springfield Update" is at www.electionupdate2014.com/il13.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce has endorsed state Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, in the race to represent the 12th U.S. House District.
Bost's campaign announced the endorsement at a news conference at Werts Welding and Tank Services in Wood River.
Bost also recently got the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business, a small business association.
Bost is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, and Green Party candidate Paula Bradshaw.
Enyart, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, announced Monday that the Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a $505,065 grant to Chestnut Health Systems Inc. in Granite City.
The money will help homeless and at-risk veterans and their families as part of a federal program designed to reduce the number of veterans who are homeless by helping low-income families transition to permanent housing.
"By far, one of the most difficult things I've witnessed in my 35 year military career are veterans who don't have a place to call home," Enyart said. "Since I took office last year, I've been in constant communication with the VA about healthcare, the disability claims backlog, homeless veterans and more. It's nice to see that they are stepping up to do the right thing here in Southern Illinois."
Enyart also said he will continue to make impromptu visits to the Marion VA Hospital, the Marion VA outpatient facility, the Belleville VA outpatient facility and others throughout the region.
Bradshaw this month is speaking out on the issue of paid maternity leave.August is during August in recognition of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.
Bradshaw said she and the Illinois Green Party believe that women should get maternity leave for at least six months at full pay. If elected, Bradshaw said she would introduce legislation for paid maternity and paternity leave.
Paid maternity leave for new mothers would make it easier for women to be breastfeeding their newborns, Bradshaw said.
"Breastfeeding is the best way to give your baby a good start in life, in terms of nutrition, protection from disease and emotional bonding," Bradshaw said. "A strong parent-child bond is essential for full human development. The months after birth are extremely important to that bonding experience."
The campaign of Democrat Ann Callis of Edwardsville, candidate in Illinois' 13th Congressional District, has responded to the endorsement given by two education groups to her opponent, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville. Davis has been endorsed by the political action committees of the Illinois Education Association and the National Education Association.
Callis spokesman David Miyashiro said: "As the mother of a teacher and as a proud public school graduate who sent her kids to public school, Ann is proud to have the endorsement of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. While Congressman Davis has played Washington politics by voting to cut federal education programs by billions and supporting the government shutdown that threatened local Head Start programs, Ann will be a voice in Congress for public education and always support our educators."