Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D., Colo.) latest reelection ad depicts him clad in outdoor gear, casting a fly fishing line into the Arkansas River. But the multimillionaire businessman isn’t exactly a regular fisherman, local records suggest. The campaign obtained a one-day fishing license in order to shoot the ad, according to Axios.
The new ad is the second in the last month featuring Bennet enjoying Colorado’s outdoors and a clear attempt to shake the image that the two-term lawmaker is a wealthy, D.C. insider.
"The worst sin any candidate can do is come across as insincere and phony and I think Bennet comes close to doing that," said Colorado Republican strategist Dick Wadhams. "He’s going to have to answer for that on the campaign."
Bennet's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Bennet, who has seen his net worth increase by the millions during his time in the Senate, is running for reelection against former carpenter and construction CEO Joe O’Dea. Republicans are optimistic that Biden’s historically low approval rating has made Bennet’s seat competitive. According to FiveThirtyEight, Bennet votes with Biden 98 percent of the time.
O’Dea’s campaign is working to characterize Bennet as a lawmaker who left his home state to profit off his position as a senator. As average Coloradans struggle to pay for groceries, O’Dea’s campaign said in a recent Tweet, Bennet is checking "his stock portfolio."
Bennet's net worth is valued up to $31 million, his financial disclosure forms show. A considerable amount of that money is located in Cayman Islands hedge funds, those same forms state, making a detailed accounting difficult. Bennet has also set aside hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment funds for his children.
The fly fishing guide featured with Bennet in the ad is not exactly a regular small businessman. Rather, he is Chaffee County commissioner Greg Felt, whom Colorado governor Jared Polis (D.) appointed in 2020 to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Felt’s claim in the ad that he is "not a Democrat" is not entirely true, given that he voted as a Democrat in several election cycles starting in 2002, according to a review of Colorado’s voting records.
Bennet’s ad will air for two weeks across Colorado as part of a $1.2 million ad campaign launched in mid-July. None of his ads contain any references to President Joe Biden or some of the landmark bills Bennet voted for, such as the nearly $2 trillion American Rescue Plan, which many economists say contributed to skyrocketing inflation.
The Free Beacon reported earlier this month that Bennet’s first ad misled voters on who funds his campaign. Bennet claims he does not accept campaign contributions from corporate PACs or federal lobbyists, despite his campaign finance records showing otherwise.
Bennet was appointed to his seat in 2009 after his predecessor, Ken Salazar, became secretary of the interior. He dropped out of the 2020 presidential race after receiving just 164 votes in the Iowa caucuses and fewer than 1,000 in the New Hampshire primary.