Harwell PAC runs TV ad about Harwell (feat. Harwell)

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A television ad running in support of House Speaker Beth Harwell, a Republican candidate for governor, is raising eyebrows. The ad is paid for by Harwell’s PAC — not her campaign account — and doesn’t explicitly say anything about her gubernatorial aspirations. But unlike typical independent expenditure ads, this one features Harwell speaking directly to the camera about her achievements as House speaker.

“Under my leadership as speaker of the House, we have accomplished a lot for Tennessee and the signs are everywhere,” Harwell says from the speaker’s podium.

See the ad here:

The Tennessean reports that the PAC has paid more than $175,000 to run the ad 415 times on stations in Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville.

The committee previously known as Harwell PAC was renamed Tennesseans for Good Government in December. Austin McMullen, a legal adviser to the PAC, said in a statement that state law allows the committee “to be used for the work of the speaker, including communication with the citizens of Tennessee.”

“Since this ad does not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, it is within the law and not subject to the additional restrictions,” McMullen said.

State law bans the use of public buildings for “campaign activity in support of any particular candidate, party or measure unless reasonably equal opportunity is provided for presentation of all sides or views.”

McMullen said the Harwell ad was recorded in the chamber because that is where “much of her work is done.”

“Naturally it made sense to include Speaker Harwell in this setting, since so much of what she has done for Tennesseans occurred on the floor of the Tennessee House of Representatives,” McMullen said.

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