Washington, Sept. 12 – One week after incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) completed RespectAbility’s #PwDsVote candidate questionnaire on disability issues, the campaign supporting his reelection efforts launched a new television ad focused on disability.
This new statewide political ad describes how the North Carolina Republican worked to get the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act passed and how this law empowers people with disabilities to save money without fearing the loss of essential benefits. The ad features a North Carolina family with two children on the Autism Spectrum and discusses how the entire family benefits from these new 529 savings accounts.
“Without Richard Burr, our children and other people’s children would not have the benefit of saving for their future,” Christie D’Amelio of Charlotte, North Carolina, says in the ad.
The YouTube version of the ad, which is the version embedded on the campaign’s website, and the Facebook upload, both include captioning, which is important for the 37.5 million American adults aged 18 and over who report some trouble hearing.
The campaign also posted two pages on its website – a press release about the ad and a page devoted to “Working Across the Aisle for People with Disabilities.” Both pages contain facts and figures about the ABLE Act emphasizing Burr’s continuing, bipartisan work on the ABLE to Work Act, the ABLE Age Adjustment Act and the ABLE Financial Planning Act. The bipartisan group working to expand and improve the ABLE Act also includes Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland who also recently completed RespectAbility’s questionnaire.
As Burr wrote in an op-ed in May 2016: “In my view, ABLE accounts are a milestone in a larger movement to create opportunity and independence for those impacted by disability.”
This ad is the latest in an increasingly large library of political campaign videos that put disability issues front and center. Earlier this year, a pro-Clinton SuperPAC called Priorities USA released a pair of campaign ads attacking Donald Trump for his treatment of people with disabilities. The ads “Dante” and “Grace” were part of a $500,000 ad buy in the crucial swing states of Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Florida and North Carolina.
In New Hampshire, Gov. Maggie Hassan’s first ad tells the story of her son Ben, who has cerebral palsy, is a wheelchair user and is nonverbal. She is running for New Hampshire’s open Senate seat.
“We are thankful that politicians on both sides of the aisle are concentrating more on their outreach to and inclusion of the disability community than any previous election season,” said RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, who herself is a person with a disability.
Burr also has made campaign stops to bring attention to the critical challenges facing people with disabilities living in North Carolina. In August, he visited Bitty and Beau’s Coffee Shop in Wilmington, North Carolina, which is “run by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” This coffee shop provides a current team of 40 employees the opportunity to live and work as a fixture of their local community.
While Burr may be advertising his work on the ABLE Act, many people with disabilities in North Carolina struggle to find work. Currently, only 30 percent of the 715,508 working-age North Carolinians with disabilities have a job. Each year, one quarter of North Carolina’s 36,600 youth with disabilities will leave the school system and face an uncertain future. Despite solid job growth, the Tar Heel state currently ranks 39th in the nation in terms of the employment rate for people with disabilities.
In filling out her responses to RespectAbility’s candidate questionnaire, Burr’s Democratic opponent Deborah Ross touted her own record as “an advocate for expanding opportunities for Americans with disabilities.”
RespectAbility has asked all the candidates in Senate and gubernatorial races on both sides of the aisle to complete the same questionnaire and is sharing all unedited responses on The RespectAbility Report as they are received.
RespectAbility and The RespectAbility Report are nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.
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