Ad takes aim at Boeing

The Boeing campus at the Charleston International Airport now consists of two fuselage-assembly plants (top) and lots of open space for future construction.

Leroy Burnell

A political advertisement is seeking to enrage Upstate residents about the tax breaks that helped land Boeing Co.'s 787 plant, calling it "a sweetheart deal" and "corporate welfare for one company in Charleston."

The radio spot targets South Carolina attorney general candidate Leighton Lord, a Columbia attorney who helped negotiate the company's incentive package.

The commercial starts out with the sound of tax money being poured into a dump truck. Lord, a Republican, dismissed the ad as campaign politics. He said he didn't know who was responsible.

"It's really upsetting that someone's trying to play this regional divide because I don't think it exists," he said Tuesday. "People in the Upstate are thrilled about Boeing."

Two other Republicans are running for the attorney general seat: Alan Wilson and Robert Bolchoz. Matthew Richardson is running as a Democrat.

The ads, which started running in the Upstate three weeks ago, are being paid for by a conservative Iowa-based group called American Future Fund, which has run commercials critical of liberal lawmakers across the country.

AFF spokesman Nick Ryan said the group has spent $50,000 so far on the campaign. "We think there's a better way to do economic development," Ryan said.

The group is also promoting a Web site, boeingbailout.com.

The publicity campaign cites research from the S.C. Policy Council, a Columbia-based conservative think tank that's been critical of most aspects of the Boeing deal, such as the secrecy of the negotiations and the potential tax burden on residents.

Ashley Landess, president of the council, said her organization did not put any money toward the ad campaign. "People cite our research all the time," she said. "It's public information. There's nothing you can do about it."

A local Boeing spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

Reach Katy Stech at 937-5549 or kstech@postand courier.com.