AUSTIN -- Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and an independent Super PAC supporting his bid for an open U.S. Senate seat are both out with new ads focusing on former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz's connection to a Pennsylvania developer embroiled in a judicial corruption scheme.
Dewhurst released a new radio ad Wednesday called "Cash for Cruz." Half of the one-minute spot focuses on explaining why Robert Mericle pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from what prosecutors argued were illegal kickbacks paid to two state judges who sent juveniles into Mericle's private detention facilities.
"This is a radio ad about bribery, kids who had their lives ruined and a lawyer who was willing to say anything," the ad begins.
Cruz has represented Mericle in an appeal of his lawsuit against an insurance company that had refused to pay money to help settle civil claims arising from the scandal. Cruz never represented Mericle during his criminal prosecution.
"Cruz ignored the real victims: the kids," the ad continues.
The radio ad comes a day after the Texas Conservatives Fund, a Super PAC founded by Rob Johnson, Dewhurst's former chief of staff, launched a new television ad with a similar theme.
The 30-second ad, called "No Principles," argues that Cruz's work for Mericle and a Chinese tire company found liable for stealing the designs of an American businessman shows he lacks principles.
The new ads are the latest part of an aggressive campaign Dewhurst and his supporters have launched in the last week to tie Cruz to the Pennsylvania "kids for cash" scandal.
"It is based on a tragic scandal that occurred in Pennsylvania, but he's trying to tie me to it because I handled a commercial appeal against an insurance company," Cruz said. "It's the same strategy which is he takes something that is bad and he uses a tenuous connection to try to [smear] me."
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/2012-elections/dewhurst-super-pac-target-cruz-client-in-new-ads/.