By Jonathan Hardison
HOMEWOOD, AL (WBRC) - Are new attack ads in the republican gubernatorial runoff illegal, and are they actually hurting the man they're supposed to help?
Those questions were raised today by Bradley Byrne and Dr. Robert Bentley as the two men fight for votes and the high ground in what's becoming an increasingly negative campaign.
Byrne today asked the attorney general to investigate a new PAC running attack ads against him because they missed the deadline to file paperwork with the state.
Dr. Robert Bentley repeated today that he has nothing to do with these ads and wants them to stop, even though they're aimed squarely at his only opponent.
Barely containing his anger, Byrne pounded his fists Wednesday afternoon while calling for the attorney general to investigate the PAC known as "The Conservative Coaltion for Alabama," a group funding attack ads against Byrne.
"This is the most negative, vicious campaign that's been run in this state at least since 1970," Byrne said. "And the people behind it are cowards. They will not step forward. Worse than that, they're criminals because this is a violation of the law."
Byrne claims the Coalition PAC missed the deadline of yesterday to file paperwork with the state showing who's behind the group, a violation of state law.
Byrne has repeatedly attacked the AEA and he thinks they're behind this new PAC, just as they have admitted helping to fund a PAC running similar negative ads in the spring primary.
"If you look at what's being said, there's every reason to believe, though we do not know, that these are the same people," Byrne said. "But whether it is or it isn't, whoever is behind this group has violated the law by not filing that filing."
"I cannot stop any organization from doing that," Dr. Bentley said Wednesday. "I have asked that they not be run. They started the fight, I'm not involved in that fight."
Though they're aimed squarely at his only opponent, Bentley said he doesn't like the ads and thinks they may actually be damaging his campaign.
"I think they actually hurt me," Bentley said. "Because it makes it look like I'm running negative ads, and I am not. I had rather them not run these ads. That's all I can say, I've said I don't want them to run these ads, we put out a press release to that effect."
There is another deadline looming Thursday for the Conservative Coalition PAC to file disclosure forms showing where it's funding came from.
Byrne says he's betting the PAC's backers won't make that deadline either.