A conservative group backed by several Fox News contributors has pulled ads featuring footage of murdered journalist James Foley after his family sharply criticized the campaign as “deplorable.”
Secure America Now (SAN) had been running advertisements attacking Democratic candidates with footage of Foley's beheading at the hands of ISIS. Foley's parents told New England Cable News (NECN) that the ads are “very sad” and “deplorable,” and called for them to be pulled with an apology.
The group announced on October 15 that it would launch advocacy campaigns featuring the Foley footage in ads against Democratic Senators Mark Pryor (AR), Mark Udall (CO), Mary Landrieu (LA), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), and Congressman Gary Peters (MI). Secure America Now president Allen Roth said that “Pryor, Udall, Landrieu, Shaheen, and Peters have all ignored the crisis at our southern border. While evading efforts of those attempting to secure the border, they have silently supported President Obama's rumored amnesty plans.” The group also posted on Facebook that day, “Watch the ad that's got the left riled up. Help us get it out, SHARE this video now.”
Roth later told NECN, “It has been brought to our attention that a news report image of American hostage James Foley that appeared in a Secure America Now video has upset his parents, so we have decided to take the video down. It was never our attention to upset Mr. Foley's family and we apologize for any pain we inadvertently caused.”
SAN used the Foley ad to fundraise. An October 15 email stated, “With your help, we can finally capture the attention of these ignorant few. Every dollar you donate will go directly to advocating for border security in the Senate race of your choice” and included links to donation pages featuring the now-removed ads.
The group's advisory board includes Fox News host Mike Huckabee and Fox News contributors John Bolton and Pat Caddell. Despite claiming to be “non-partisan,” the group has previously been involved in projects pushing for President Obama's impeachment and more investigations into the already thoroughly-investigated attacks in Benghazi.
Bolton previously defended the use of the Foley video in other campaign advertising. Commenting to The Hill in early October about a Republican House candidate's ad, Bolton said that “When you hear people say, 'Oh you shouldn't run ads on that issue,' to me it demonstrates fear of the issue ... if we don't talk about it as adults we're never going to understand the problem fully.”
NECN reported that Roth said “SAN board members are not involved in creating ads, nor do they see them before they go public. Roth says Bolton had nothing to do with this.” Regardless, Fox News contributors like Bolton are integral to establishing the group's credentials, as the group touts their advisory board membership and testimonials.