Survivor of Firestone explosion asks GOP group to take down ad

Erin Martinez, who survived an explosion in Firestone that killed her husband and brother, has called on a Republican group to take down an ad about the explosion.

“I woke up this morning to hear about a horrifying political ad using images from the explosion and fire that destroyed my life and killed my husband Mark and my brother Joey,” Martinez said through a spokesperson Thursday.

The ad, from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, uses video from the explosion to criticize John Hickenlooper, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. When Hickenlooper was governor, his office received donations from Anadarko Petroleum, which owned the gas line that exploded. One donation came weeks after the explosion.

“No one went to jail, no fines under Hickenlooper,” a narrator says in the NRSC ad. “John Hickenlooper took the money and let them get away with it.”

The ad began airing online, on Denver television stations, and on cable Thursday morning. The NRSC has spent millions of dollars, and plans to spend millions more, criticizing Hickenlooper before he faces Sen. Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican, on Nov. 3.

Martinez said Thursday that she and her family have worked extremely hard to prevent tragedies like the one that killed her brother and husband. She stood next to Gov. Jared Polis last year when he signed an oil and gas regulations overhaul.

“Not a single day goes by that we are not heartbroken and struck with unimaginable grief,” Martinez said in the emailed statement. “This ad uses my story in a negative light and disgraces the memory of Mark and Joey. Please remove this ad from public view immediately.”

Joanna Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the NRSC, responded to the request: “The kind of grief Ms. Martinez and her family have survived is unimaginable, and their public fight to keep other Colorado families safe is incredibly important.

“John Hickenlooper said he was going to do the right thing to protect Colorado families right after the explosion, but then a private donation to his office from the gas company responsible changed that,” Rodriguez added.

Hickenlooper’s campaign said the ad is a gross mischaracterization of the public-private partnerships that he and other governors used to improve Colorado. Anadarko donated money years before the explosion for a children’s reading program and wildfire relief fund, Hickenlooper’s campaign noted. The campaign also pointed to several regulatory steps Hickenlooper took after the explosion.

“Erin Martinez is absolutely correct — Washington Republicans must take down their ‘horrifying’ and false attack and stop exploiting this tragedy and distorting the facts to score political points,” said Melissa Miller, a Hickenlooper spokeswoman.

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