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David Perdue Campaign Ad Still

Donald Trump’s preferred-and-endorsed candidate in the Georgia GOP primary for governor is having the kind of day you might expect after a former deputy currently facing child pornography charges appeared in a campaign ad, in what the campaign regards as a “b-roll mistake.”

Former U.S. senator David Perdue is running a law-and-order-focused race against incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp. But the subtext of that political feud–arguing that the incumbent’s policies have been soft on crime–has been brought to the foreground in recent days.

“We have a mayor that has literally voted to defund the police,” Perdue alleged in a recent interview. “We’re short some several hundred police officers [in] the city of Atlanta. The city of Atlanta has tied with Chicago as the murder capital of America. This is all on Brian Kemp’s watch. There are things the governor can do.”

Perdue recently launched a series of attacks against Kemp for not supporting a breakaway city movement in Atlanta. The Buckhead neighborhood is a high crime, majority white and well-to-do part of the sprawling southern metropolis and, in recent months, has agitated to become a city of its own. The move, however, would strip Atlanta, which is majority Black, of a substantial tax base. Buckhead’s city movement is broadly supported by Republicans in the Peach State.

The former senator might have sensed a bit of momentum in his bid for the GOP nomination–until he released an ad where he shook hands with former Forsyth County chief deputy Grady Sanford.

“David Perdue,” the ad is captioned, “Stands Strong With Trump.”

As the text rolls, footage of Perdue and Sanford shaking hands during an August 2019 elementary school visit plays. The text in the video also says that Perdue will “Crack Down On Crime.”

In November 2020, Sanford was charged with two counts of distribution of child pornography. The charges were leveled against the law enforcement officer after the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children sent the Georgia Bureau of Investigation a tip that images of child sexual abuse had uploaded to the internet.

An investigation tracked the email in question to Sanford’s residence and a search warrant was executed at his home in Canton, Ga. The chief deputy was fired, the sheriff there said, after probable cause was found to support the child pornography charges against Sanford.

“To say this is a shock is a gross understatement,” Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman said at the time via Facebook. “We intentionally set our standards high at Forsyth County. Regardless of rank, every employee must meet those moral and legal standards. There is no room for this type of crime in our State, and certainly not in the law enforcement profession. Our trust and that of our community has been betrayed. I’ve made a commitment to be transparent, even when one of our own employees does wrong. No one is exempt and no one is above the law.”

Perdue’s once-struggling campaign was quickly in trouble once again.

“David Perdue should immediately take down this TV ad that highlights him shaking hands with a child predator and apologize to the victims of Grady Sanford’s atrocious criminal behavior,” Cody Hall, Director of Communications and Senior Advisor for the Kemp campaign said. “Perdue’s use of this footage to score political points for his failing campaign is absolutely reprehensible. Georgians deserve better in their Governor.”

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Perdue campaign consultant Austin Chambers noted the event took place before Sanford was charged but also admitted the ad was a “b-roll mistake.”

“This was an ad footage mistake and the clip has been removed,” a Perdue campaign spokesperson told local Fox affiliate WAGA.

Perdue’s campaign reportedly spent some $600,000 on campaign ads this week–including the since-altered ad containing the disgraced ex-deputy–some of which feature the 45th president telling Georgia voters “Brian Kemp let us down.”

[image via screengrab/Perdue for Governor, Inc.]

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