State Democrats are stepping up TV attack ads, claiming a link between the state’s inaction on massage parlor sex-assault claims and money flowing to Republican Brian Kemp’s gubernatorial campaign.
The ad, paid for by the Democratic Party of Georgia, is now airing in the Atlanta television market.
The 30-second spot bluntly suggests a quid pro quo between Secretary of State Kemp, whose office has administrative oversight of state licensing of massage therapists, and Patrick Greco.
A chiropractor and former Massage Envy owner, Greco contributed $1,000 to Kemp’s campaign for governor. Greco and his partner also hosted a fundraising gala at their lavish antebellum home in Madison in April.
The ad — the third on this topic — says that “even the Republicans called for a criminal investigation into Brian Kemp, his fundraising deals, and the real cost of Brian Kemp’s silence.”
It goes on to say: “When will Brian Kemp tell us the truth about this quid pro quo scheme?”
The ad references a call during the primary runoff by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s supporters for state and federal prosecutors to investigate a possible “quid pro quo” between Kemp and his campaign donors.
The concerns center on two Massage Envy clinics that had at least four complaints of therapists groping women during massages. The Board of Massage Therapy, which is under Kemp’s purview, did not sanction or revoke any of the accused therapists’ licenses. Three of the therapists still have active licenses, and the fourth’s license lapsed with no action taken by the state.
Kemp has repeatedly said he did nothing wrong in accepting campaign contributions from Greco. His campaign has refunded hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from industries regulated by the Secretary of State’s Office.
Kemp also has said that only a five-member panel appointed by the governor has the power to suspend or revoke licenses or launch investigations.
Cody Hall, spokesman for the Kemp campaign, issued a statement calling the ad “absolutely false.
“The Massage Therapy Board – not the Secretary of State’s Office – is charged with holding license holders accountable for their actions,” Hall said. “Clearly, the Democrats are trying to distract voters from Stacey Abrams’ radical agenda that’s too extreme for Georgia.”
Watch the ad
Check out these other ads in the governor’s race.