Al Sharpton to Alan Grayson: I didn't endorse you, so don't use me in your ad
Civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton wants Democrat Alan Grayson to take down an online ad he launched this month that seems to imply the Orlando congressman has Sharpton's endorsement in Florida's competitive U.S. Senate race.
Ten days ago, Grayson posted on his Facebook page a video ad that shows Sharpton praising Grayson as a strong progressive. The 15-second spot includes undated footage from Sharpton's previous MSNBC show "PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton," which is edited so Sharpton says the following seamlessly:
"Now more than ever the Democrats need strong voices -- progressives, who are willing to fight for the causes they believe in. ... Joining me now is the man himself, Congressman Alan Grayson."
The footage seems to be a combination of two clips parsed from a single segment on Sharpton's show. The footage appears to be about three years old (a background graphic references the 113th Congress, which started in 2013).
Sharpton offered a stern rebuke to Grayson's ad.
“Let me be clear, this video should not be viewed as an endorsement from me of Rep. Grayson’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida," Sharpton said in a statement. "They did not contact me before posting this ad, nor did I endorse them implicitly or explicitly. I would appreciate it if they would take this video down as soon as possible to prevent any further confusion.”
Grayson campaign spokesman Dave Damron told the Herald/Times that Grayson has Sharpton's personal phone number and that the congressman reached out to discuss Sharpton's concerns.
"The congressman has other videos similar in style to this one on his YouTube channel, and we’ve not heard concerns like this raised before," Damron said in an email. "Until Rep. Grayson can reach Rev. Sharpton, we will not be taking the video down."
Damron also added that Grayson "didn't claim an endorsement in the video, and it only excerpted comments aired throughout the country on Rev. Sharpton’s previous MSNBC show."
"Rep. Grayson appeared often on that show, and also at several public events with the Reverend," Damron said.
As of Friday afternoon, the web ad had more than 15,000 views on Grayson's Facebook page, and the ad previously showed up elsewhere on the site as "sponsored" content.
Here's the ad in question: