Health group airs ad backing Obama EPA nominee


The American Public Health Association has begun airing a new TV ad supporting Gina McCarthy, President Barack Obama's nominee for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. It's the first time the nonprofit group has aired an ad backing a specific nominee, according to a spokeswoman.

McCarthy was okayed by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in a party line 10-8 vote last Thursday, but will still need a floor vote to become the country's top environmental regulator. Republicans had previously threatened to boycott a vote on her nomination, and all eight Republicans on the committee voted against her.

McCarthy is currently the EPA’s assistant administrator in charge of air and radiation, and has worked in state government in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Republican opposition centered on general complaints about EPA's practices rather than specific grievances about McCarthy.

Health association spokeswoman Audrey Pernik said the ad backing McCarthy wasn't political. It features images of asthmatic children, and lauds McCarthy's work on clean air issues. A press release from the association calls McCarthy "instrumental" in developing rules to limit mercury emissions from power plants that are expected to prevent 11,000 premature deaths each year.

The ads don't mention the names of any particular senators who might vote on McCarthy's nomination. As a 501(c)(3) group, the association is barred from running ads backing specific candidates, and Pernik said the group doesn't even have a budget for paid media. "They're not targeted ads, they're raising the importance of a public health issues," said Pernik. "There's no specific call to action for our constituents other than the fact that this is an important public health issue and that Gina McCarthy needs our support."

The ads will air in New Hampshire and Maine this week, said Pernik. They'll also air in the DC market next week, she said. The cost of all ads would be in the six-figure range.

The ads begin airing today on Manchester, New Hampshire ABC-affiliate WMUR, according to an ad buy document filed with the Federal Communications Commission. The total buy at WMUR costs just over $82,000 for 62 spots, according to the filing. TV stations in Maine aren't required to post their ad buy documents online, according to FCC rules.

Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican, represents Maine and is up for reelection in 2014. And Massachusetts–which gets many of the ads that air in New Hampshire–will vote in June for a new senator to fill the seat left empty by Secretary of State John Kerry. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican who represents New Hampshire, has been under fire for her vote against gun control, with outside groups airing ads in her district both for and against her. She's not up for reelection until 2016.