MANCHESTER -- The national group Mayors Against Illegal Guns this week launched its fourth television ad in the Manchester and Boston market critical of New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
It is the fourth ad the coalition of more than 950 mayors, headed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Mennino, has aired against Ayotte since her vote last month against legislation that would have required background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and on the Internet.
Ayotte spokesman Jeff Grappone responded to the latest attack, "Senator Ayotte won't be bullied by a billionaire mayor or anyone else. She casts votes for New Hampshire based on what she thinks is right."
Ayotte has been the focus of national debate on the issue since her vote on the Manchin-Toomey bill. The plan failed to receive the necessary 60 votes needed for passage.
The latest ad will air for 10 days and is costing the group $400,000, a spokesman said.
The ad features a Minnesota police chief, Scott Knight, former chairman of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Firearms Committee, who labels as an "alibi" Ayotte's contention that she supported a bill to tighten sales restrictions.
The Mayors group says the bill Ayotte voted for was actually a "decoy bill created by the gun lobby that would have weakened the system by making it easier for the dangerously mentally ill to get guns."
Its says the Manchin-Toomey background check bill was "the only bill that would have required background checks for commercial gun sales and improved the background check system."
The Grassley-Cruz bill "does not close private sale loopholes that allows felons, domestic abusers and severely mentally ill people to avoid background checks simply by shopping online or at gun shows."
"Don't be fooled," Knight says in the ad. "She voted to kill comprehensive background checks, making us less safe.
That's a fact.
John Feinblatt, chief policy advisor for Bloomberg and chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, charged Ayotte "is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of voters. But police chiefs like Scott Knight, former chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Firearms Committee, know the facts, and we want to make sure voters do, too."
Ayotte spokesman Grappone said Bloomberg "has spent nearly $2 million on false ads attacking Senator Ayotte.
"This is the same guy who tried to tell people they can't drink a Big Gulp, and now he's spending some of his billions trying to get Senator Ayotte to do what he wants," Grappone said.
Ayotte's office also released a statement from New Hampshire active and retired chiefs who support her -- Dick Crate of Enfield, Mike Sielicki of Kensington, Russ Lary of Grantham, John Tholl of Dalton and retired Christopher Connelly of Dunbarton:
"The latest out of state attack ad from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg featuring a Minnesota policeman is appalling. He doesn't know New Hampshire values, and he certainly doesn't know Kelly Ayotte.
"Senator Ayotte voted to put teeth into the current broken background check system, including increasing prosecutions of those who illegally try to buy guns. The bill she voted for also gave states incentives to finally get mental health records into the background check system, and unlike the alternative bill it addressed the significant mental health gaps in our criminal justice system.
The chiefs said, "Senator Ayotte has a long record of putting criminals behind bars, protecting children from predators, and working with victims of crime. She has deep support within the New Hampshire law enforcement community."