Republican senator Kelly Loeffler's campaign ran a paid Facebook ad last week that was digitally altered to make her Democratic opponent, Raphael Warnock, appear darker ahead of the Georgia senate run-off elections on Tuesday, Jan 5.
Loeffler's campaign used two of the same clips in two different ads that ran on the social media platform the same day but spent 10 times more on the version in which Warnock's skin was darkened.
According to the Facebook Ad Library, on Dec. 29, Loeffler's team spent between $3,500 and $4,000 on an ad titled "Too Radical. Too Corrupt" and about $40,000 to $45,000 on a second, more aggressive post titled "Beyond Radical Raphael," which uses some of the same footage but with the color of Warnock's skin noticeably darkened. Here are screenshots taken from the two ads.
In the second ad, Warnock's skin has been darkened throughout, including in a video clip taken from a sermon he gave in 2011 at Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Warnock is now senior pastor. Although the two ads are similar, the second spot was pushed more aggressively and racked up more than 1 million impressions.
In a statement addressing the Facebook ads, Warnock campaign spokesperson Terrence Clark said: "Given that Kelly Loeffler has run the single most negative campaign in Georgia history, there is no level she could stoop to that would surprise us."
In a debate earlier this month, Loeffler called Warnock a "radical liberal" more than a dozen times, while declaring, "There is not a racist bone in my body."
Loeffler's Photo with Klansman
This is not the first time Loeffler's social media activity has become the subject of controversy. The Republican came under fire recently after a photo of her posing with a white supremacist and long-time Ku Klux Klan member, Chester Doles, went viral on social media, as previously reported.
"Kelly had no idea who that was, and if she had she would have kicked him out immediately because we condemn in the most vociferous terms everything that he stands for," Stephen Lawson, a Loeffler campaign spokesperson, later said in a statement.