PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A new political ad sponsored by the National Republican Congressional Committee links freshman U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) to a convicted pedophile and murderer he represented as a defense attorney twenty years ago.
Cicilline, who served as the Mayor of Providence from 2003 to 2011, and was the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital, is running for re-election in the newly redrawn 1st district.
In the television ad, which began runs this week, the narrator says, “What do a child molester, a murderer and a violent attacker all have in common? Defense attorney David Cicilline.”
The ad is designed to boost the chances of Republican challenger Brendan Doherty, the former head of the Rhode Island state police, following a similar attack that Doherty’s campaign launched last week that shows a photo of Cicilline on-screen alongside the words “rapists, pedophiles and murderers.”
The NRCC ad is “one of the harshest ads I’ve ever seen in Rhode Island politics,” said former Democratic congressman Bob Weygand.
He said defense attorneys don’t necessarily like their clients, but their job is to defend them, and that shouldn’t reflect on them personally.
The Associated Press reported that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called the ad “the worst kind of gutter politics,” while Cicilline Campaign Manager Eric Hyers said voters deserve a debate on the issues.
The Cicilline campaign put out an ad Wednesday focusing on the Republican ads and saying Doherty “doesn’t want to talk about his agenda.”
When asked about the fairness of an ad attacking an attorney for defending those charged with crimes, NRCC spokesman Nat Sillin criticized Cicilline for choosing to “fight for violent criminals” over victims.
“David Cicilline chose to represent convicted child molesters and murders. He chose to make a career out of doing that,” Sillin said.