The Washington-based Republican Governors Association spent more than $100,000 on advertising time for Sarah Palin over the next week, according to records from local TV stations, as reported in the Anchorage Daily News.
One 30-second ad begins with vistas of Alaskan landscape and then a montage of Palin talking with people. A male voice then says: "It couldn't have happened at a better time for Alaska. Sarah Palin, a bright fresh face with new ideas to hold down taxes and improve education, while moving Alaska forward."
In a campaign press release, Knowles spokeswoman Patty Ginsburg criticized the group's involvement, saying the ads belie Palin's claims that she is running a grassroots, politics-free campaign.
"Her TV is being paid for by big drug companies, the insurance industry, big oil and tobacco," Ginsburg said. "Check out campaignmoney.com and see where the RGA gets its money from. They include companies such as Pfizer, Anheuser-Busch and MassMutual Life Insurance, to name a few. One of the leading contributors to RGA has been Capitol Campaign Strategies, Jack Abramoff's group."
Former GOP lobbyist Abramoff is tied to a federal investigation into alleged illegal exchanges of gifts and favors involving lawmakers, their staff and other Washington officials.
Palin's campaign fired back. "That's rich coming from the Knowles camp," countered Palin spokesman Curtis Smith. He predicted that the Democratic Governors Association is about to jump in the race, too, and said Knowles has questionable affiliations of his own.
"If Tony is so worried about affiliations, why did he appoint Bill Allen of VECO to head up his transition team in 1994? Not only is his company under investigation by the FBI, But isn't he the leader of the 'good old boy' network Tony's camp is chirping about?" read the press release from Palin's Web site.
The bickering comes as polls have registered a shift in Palin's favor. She came out of the August primary with name recognition and momentum from her upset of incumbent Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski.
Recent independent polls show Palin with leads of as much as 15 percent, according to Congressional Quarterly.
However, former two-term governor Knowles has proven campaign skills, and is hoping the strongest independent candidate, former Republican state Rep. Andrew Halcro will draw some votes away from Palin, according to CQ.