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Stations pull ad after cease-and-desist order from candidate

COLUMBIA (AP) South Carolina television stations began pulling an ad Wednesday after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from an attorney for Catherine Templeton, who’s mounting a primary challenge to Gov. Henry McMaster.

Correspondence obtained by The Associated Press confirmed that several stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group had taken down the 30-second spot critical of Templeton, who says the ad is inaccurate.

The Palmetto PAC ad, which began running statewide on May 15, likens Templeton to a contestant on “The Apprentice,” with President Donald Trump repeatedly saying, “You’re fired” as an announcer says that Templeton was fired by both the state health agency and Revenue Department. It cites an article by the Post and Courier of Charleston, in which sources told the paper that Templeton had been pushed out of both positions.

But U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who was governor at the time, backed Templeton’s claim that she left both agencies on her own. Haley tapped Templeton first to lead the state labor department, then the Department of Health and Environmental Control. After a total of four years, Templeton left state government, later consulting for both DHEC and Revenue.

In a statement provided to AP, Templeton’s campaign said that she “won’t back down” from false accusations, adding, “We know McMaster and his allies will keep lying about Catherine because that’s all corrupt big government insiders know how to do.”

McMaster’s campaign didn’t comment on the ad, which is being run by a third-party group. Earlier this year, the incumbent accused Templeton of “hiding” behind her tax returns and calling on her to reveal the full sources of her income. McMaster launched a website, www.WhatIsTempletonHiding.com , listing the contracts and challenging Templeton’s stated commitment to transparency.

The former chairman of South Carolina’s Republicans told AP that it’s rare for political ads to be removed from the air.

“It’s almost unprecedented for a TV ad to be taken down,” said Matt Moore, who served as SC GOP chairman from 2013 until last year. “There’s a pretty low standard for truth on TV — so this ad is more fake than a Kardashians episode.”

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