McAuliffe faces criticism for running ads linked to partisan ‘news’ sites

Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is facing new criticism over a series of recent campaign ads.

According to Fox News, his campaign has spent nearly $100,000 on the advertisements, which are displayed on a Facebook page with a name similar to a local news outlet but link to unrelated — and highly partisan — websites. 

Facebook ads short on details

The apparent bait-and-switch came to light just a week before voters cast their ballots in a tight race between McAuliffe and GOP rival Glenn Youngkin.

As for the Facebook page, The Download VA, reports indicate McAuliffe launched it earlier this year. Although just a handful of users have liked the page, a total of nearly $500,000 has been spent on ads being distributed by it.

Each ad includes the requisite disclaimer that it was paid for by “Terry for Virginia” but no information is included about the biased nature of the websites to which it is linked.

Furthermore, the “Page Transparency” section on Facebook simply states: “Terry for Virginia. Authorized by Terry McAuliffe, candidate for Governor is responsible for this Page.”

A history of the page indicates that it was created on June 28 and at least 850 ads have been since been posted there. A more detailed search revealed that 340 of those ads have run in October alone.

McAuliffe loses lead over Youngkin

Of course, McAuliffe is not skirting the law in his advertising tactics and does not appear to be in violation of Facebook’s terms of use. Nevertheless, his campaign seems to be attempting to associate his ads with legitimate news outlets in an effort to persuade voters.

The move might be partially rooted in desperation as McAuliffe continues to see his once-healthy lead over Youngkin diminish in recent weeks.

As The Hill reported, polls show that McAuliffe and Youngkin are effectively tied as the race heads into its final stretch.

A Suffolk University survey found that the Democratic candidate held a mere 1-point lead over Youngkin while two other recent polls found the two candidates tied at 48% and 46% respectively.

Not only will the outcome of this election determine Virginia’s next governor, but many pundits are viewing it as a bellwether that could indicate the direction of next year’s midterm races.

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