Yesterday's Indianapolis Star brought an interesting article about how a Dan Burton campaign paid for a commercial with people endorsing him and speaking highly about him. The only trouble is those people were actors from an Ohio talent agency.
It's not an unsual practice according to IUPUI political science Brian Vargas
But Brian Vargus, a political science professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said "it's not unusual" for candidates to use paid actors in their ads -- even when they're giving testimonials for a candidate. He said media companies or advertising specialists often use actors to portray people who are diverse in age and race.Vargas might not think it is "unusual" but the fact that these "constituents" are Ohio actors and not Hoosiers was a red flag that any halfway decent political strategist should have been able to spot. Rep. Burton is facing several well-funded political pros in a congested primary. Of course, they were going to jump on the issue.
"In making ads for campaigns at all levels, the specialists who have been hired want the people in the ad to look a certain way," Vargus said. "Frequently, those people will be asked to portray themselves as if they are constituents of whoever is the candidate. I don't find it unusual at all."
The Ohio actors pretending to be Burton constituents is also an issue which would have resonance with voters. It's easy to understand and fits into a pre-existing belief about Rep. Burton - namely that he's grown out of touch with Hoosier voters.
Burton though has one ace card up his sleeve, namely that the anti-Burton vote is gong to be so split that he will coast to renomination come May. Fortunately, he won't have to rely on his political strategists who were asleep when this TV ad was approved.