- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - A new television ad promoting Arizona’s mortgage-relief programs is drawing criticism from state Attorney General Tom Horne’s election rivals, who say the spot feels like a campaign ad.

The 30-second ad is part of a $300,000 marketing campaign for the programs, paid for with the settlement funding, The Arizona Republic (https://bit.ly/1frYM5S ) reported.

The spot features a woman able to keep her home because of state assistance. It also includes a brief shot of Horne talking about the programs as he looks at the camera.

“Our programs help families stay in their homes,” the Republican attorney general says in the ad, which began airing last week and which will run through June.

The ad has the “look and feel of a campaign commercial,” said Ryan Anderson, campaign manager for Horne’s Republican primary opponent, Mark Brnovich. “We’re in an election year, with a primary just around the corner, and now he finds time to record a radio and TV ad? Come on.”

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Felecia Rotellini’s campaign manager, Luis Heredia, called the ad’s election-year timing “suspect” because other states’ marketing began earlier.

“How many homeowners could actually be benefiting from those resources that are being used for a public-image campaign for Tom Horne?” Heredia asked.

Horne spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said Horne’s appearance in the ad bolsters the mortgage-assistance programs’ credibility.

She also said the ad is an important public service because it publicizes the programs but that the office anticipated there’d be criticism.

“Tom could run into a building and save three babies from dying and if one baby got a scratch, that’s what people are going to jump on,” she said.

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