© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Blunt, Democratic group tangle over ad's reference to $1.5 million residential lot

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 17, 2010 - Even for these partisan times, it's an unusual campaign fight. Republican U.S. Senate nominee Roy Blunt and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are battling over whether he really does own a $1.5 million lot and whether he is, or once was, planning to have an award-winning architect build a luxury house on it.

The DSCC supports Democratic nominee Robin Carnahan and is among several outside groups on both sides spending millions of dollars on TV ads largely attacking Blunt or Carnahan.

Blunt's campaign is taking issue with the DSCC's latest attack ad, in which a pretend "socialite'' asserts on camera that "Roy’s building a new million dollar home in D.C.’s best neighborhood!"

The comment is based on an August 2009 report on Politico, the online news site, that Blunt and his wife Abigail had sold their $1.6 million home in Georgetown (once owned by John F. Kennedy) and had purchased a $1.45 million lot in northwest Washington, with plans to build a house. Blunt's congressional financial disclosure form also has listed the lot.

Since then, real-estate advertising in Washington indicate that the property now is up for sale for just under $1.6 million. The price includes a set of drawings.

But Blunt's campaign contends that the DSCC ad is "flatly and totally false," by stating that the congressman "is constructing a large new home in Washington, D.C. He is not."

Blunt's campaign wants the ad pulled off the air.

The Blunt campaign asserted that lawyers for the DSCC, a letter to TV stations backing up the ad, "intentionally tried to mislead broadcasters by producing an address that is not owned by the Blunts and has never been owned by the Blunts, and on which they certainly are not building anything because they don't own it. Not only are they not building a house on a lot they don't own, but they are not building a house anywhere."

Apparently, an early version from the DSCC to some broadcasters had the wrong address for Blunt's property.

Blunt's camp also challenges the DSCC's statement in the letter that building permits already had been obtained for the lot.

The DSCC countered Friday with an unusual news release in which it asked Blunt:

"Do you deny that you and your wife own property at 2163 Dunmore Lane in Washington, D.C.? How many families in Missouri pay at least $1.45 million for a piece of land to lay fallow?"

The Blunt campaign has not disputed that Blunt owns the property at 2163 Dunmore Lane. It is currently up for sale.

The campaign committee also jabbed at Blunt's separate complaint about the ad's characterization of his wife as a "tobacco lobbyist."

"Are you suddenly embarrassed about your wife’s profession?" the DSCC statement asked.

In fact, Abigail Blunt formerly was a lobbyist for tobacco giant for Philip Morris but has not worked for them for several years. Her sole client is now Kraft Foods, which employs 2,000 workers in Missouri, a Blunt spokesman said.

The DSCC brought her up because of controversial disclosures several years ago that Blunt attempted to insert a provision benefiting Philip Morris into a homeland security bill. Blunt has said that incident had nothing to do with Abigail Blunt, whom he was dating at the time.

Blunt campaign chairman Ann Wagner contends that the DSCC's attacks represent " the worst imaginable kind of mudslinging, character assassinations and outright falsification."

Replied DSCC spokeswoman Deirdre Murphy: "Roy Blunt is hiding behind his team of lawyers so he can conceal the truth from Missouri families. The bottom line is Roy Blunt represents the very worst of Washington and it’s time he starts answering to Missourians.”

Meanwhile, a Blunt spokesman said that the congressman and his family continue to reside in a home that they rent.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.