Records show financial connection between Northam campaign and group behind controversial ad

FOX 5 has learned that campaign finance records show a financial link between the Latino Victory Fund and the Ralph Northam campaign.

Latino Victory Fund is the group is behind a controversial ad that shows a speeding pickup truck with a Confederate flag and a bumper sticker for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie on the vehicle chasing minority children.

Northam has denied knowing about the ad. However, it was revealed through an election campaign finance report filed in Virginia that $62,000 was accepted as an in-kind media contribution from Latino Victory Fund to the Northam campaign.

"It's pretty remarkable because at the same time that Ralph Northam was going out on TV saying I would never have run this ad, I had nothing to do with it, his campaign was filing an official legal document with the [Virginia] State Board of Elections indicating that the ad constituted an in-kind contribution to his campaign, which means that by law it was a coordinated communication," said Phil Kerpin, the head of the watchdog group American Commitment, which uncovered this filing. "It was not an independent expenditure."

FOX 5 reached out to the Northam campaign on Tuesday and again on Thursday. They would not make Northam or anyone else available for an on-camera interview. They did respond to emailed questions. They claim they did not authorize the ad, did not see before it was released and would not have run it themselves.

So what about this financial disclosure filing? By law, groups must report "in-kind" donations for door-to-door canvassing and data sharing. Northam's campaign told FOX 5 Latino Victory Fund has been sharing data with their campaign, so they had to report that activity.

But American Commitment said that explanation doesn't quite fly because the $62,000 filing is listed as "media" and not canvassing or data.

"I think it just shows a remarkable level of audacity," Kerpin said. "I think what happened here is Ralph Northam wanted to have a totally over-the-top outrageous attack on his opponent, but he wanted to be able to deny it after the fact."

Following our 5 p.m. Thursday report on this, David Turner, a spokesperson for the Northam campaign, told FOX 5 that the campaign at no time made any effort to conceal any financial connection with Latino Victory Fund and is required by law to report all in-kind donations whether they are media, canvassing or data. They take issue with anyone who would suggest they have not been open and transparent.