A national Tea Party fundraising group aligned with Louisville businessman Matt Bevin plans to launch a radio ad Tuesday that blames Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for a court ruling requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II, who issued a final version of his ruling last week, was appointed by President George H.W. Bush on the recommendation of McConnell. Heyburn served as general counsel for McConnell when McConnell was Jefferson County judge-executive during the early 1980s.
"Republican voters strongly disagree with Judge Heyburn, and Senator McConnell should admit that recommending him was a mistake," the Senate Conservatives Fund said in a statement.
The group's ad also notes that Heyburn ruled in 1998 to overturn the state's ban on partial-birth abortion.
"Who recommended this liberal judge?" one actor says in the ad.
"Mitch McConnell," another actor replies.
"McConnell should admit right now that recommending Judge Heyburn was a mistake," the first actor says. "He knew this judge wasn't a conservative and promoted him anyway. Now we're stuck with gay marriage."
Both actors go on to say they plan to vote for Bevin in Kentucky's Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
The group said it would spend $29,000 to run the 60-second ad statewide.
In a statement, McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore called the group's claims "absurd and pathetic."
"This is the kind of ad voters expect to hear from people who are days away from boxing up their personal effects and auctioning off the remaining printer cartridges in the office," she said. "It is so absurd and pathetic that they ought to stop troubling radio listeners with the obligation of switching stations and admit they have no justification to attack Senator McConnell."
After Heyburn made his initial ruling on gay marriage last month, McConnell issued a statement condemning the decision and saying that Kentuckians should not have gay marriage "forced on us."
"I will continue to support traditional marriage and fight to make sure that Kentuckians define marriage as we see fit and never have a definition forced on us by interests outside of our state," McConnell said.
The radio ad accuses McConnell of "political cronyism," suggesting he recommended Heyburn because Heyburn had donated to McConnell and served as his county campaign chairman.
"McConnell knew Judge Heyburn was not a conservative, but he promoted him anyway," said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund. "Now Judge Heyburn is forcing his liberal views on Kentucky."
Sam Youngman: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @samyoungman. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.