Elections

Roberts’ campaign: Bill Snyder likely aware video would be used for political ad

In this image from his television ad provided by the Roberts campaign, Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, right, talks with Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder. Roberts' campaign launched a statewide spot Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 with Snyder endorsing the three-term incumbent just five days before the election, which has Roberts locked in a tough contest with independent candidate Greg Orman. (AP Photo/Pat Roberts Campaign)
In this image from his television ad provided by the Roberts campaign, Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, right, talks with Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder. Roberts' campaign launched a statewide spot Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 with Snyder endorsing the three-term incumbent just five days before the election, which has Roberts locked in a tough contest with independent candidate Greg Orman. (AP Photo/Pat Roberts Campaign) AP

Sen. Pat Roberts’ re-election campaign used video of Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder in a campaign commercial without Snyder’s knowledge or consent, according to an internal e-mail from the university’s president to other campus officials.

On Sunday evening, a Roberts spokesman said the campaign believes that Snyder was aware that the video was to be used in a commercial.

The commercial, titled “Coach,” is built around a video clip of Snyder praising Roberts, a longtime friend. Snyder has endorsed Roberts in his race against independent candidate Greg Orman.

The e-mail from K-State President Kirk Schulz to several university officials indicated that Snyder had not known the video clip would become a part of Roberts’ campaign advertising. Roberts is a K-State alumnus.

Asked about the campaign video Saturday, Snyder said he takes full responsibility for the blunder.

“I made a mistake. I am not going to delve into it, exactly how everything happened, but I made a mistake and embarrassed our university. That is my responsibility,” he said. “That was my error. ... I apologize.”

The e-mail from Schulz outlined steps Athletic Director John Currie and Government Relations Director Sue Peterson had taken after the campaign ad began running.

“As soon as we became aware of the video, John Currie (by phone from out of town) and Sue Peterson (in person) visited with Coach Bill Snyder about this video, and he indicated that he was unaware it was going to be used in such a fashion and was apologetic for the resulting issues,” the e-mail said. “I asked Sue Peterson, as Director of Governmental Relations, to ask the Pat Roberts re-election campaign to withdraw the video and not use it any further. They declined to honor our request.

“None of us were aware of the video in advance, and we responded as quickly as possible,” Schulz’s e-mail said.

The Kansas City Star confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail through one of the named recipients, David Rintoul, president of the K-State faculty senate, and through the university public relations department.

On Sunday, Roberts campaign manager Corry Bliss issued a statement saying the ad would be off the air by the end of the day.

He blamed the flap on “bully tactics” by “Greg Orman’s liberal allies in the (K-State) Administration.”

“The ad was filmed Tuesday at an agreed-upon time and location after Senator Roberts asked for, and received, his longtime friend’s public support,” the statement said. “In fact, it was running statewide for a full two days before news reports began to emerge that falsely claimed the Administration had asked for it to be removed.”

Sunday evening, campaign spokesman Sean Fitzpatrick said the video was professionally shot with a camera, microphone and lighting and that he thinks Snyder knew at that time that it was to be used for a campaign ad.

Saturday night, Snyder indicated he would like to see the ad pulled.

“Would I want the ads removed? Yes,” he said.

On Friday, Schulz issued a reminder to staff members throughout the college that the university does not endorse candidates and that employees should avoid using their university connection when making personal political statements or endorsements.

The ad does not directly name the university. It includes two still photographs of Roberts with Snyder at K-State’s football stadium, which is named after Snyder.

Contributing: Bryan Lowry and Kellis Robinett of The Eagle and Dave Helling of Kansas City Star

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or dlefler@wichitaeagle.com.

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