I-Team: Fung filmed campaign ad in Ohio
Republican candidate for governor Allan Fung is facing criticism for a television campaign ad.
The ad says Rhode Island is "open for business" and showcases Fung in a diner. But the diner is in Ohio.
The ad highlights Fung's hardworking immigrant background and accomplishments as mayor of Cranston.
Fung calls himself a conservative reformer, and the ad shows him sitting down at a table in a diner.
The only problem, say some, is that the diner is in Ohio.
"You're trying to tout the fact that you believe in Rhode Island and business should come to Rhode Island but you travel all the way to Ohio to film your television commercial. So that just says to me, 'What are you thinking?'" said NBC 10 political analyst Wendy Schiller, a professor at Brown University.
Fung shot the ad in July at Tommy's Diner in Columbus. The restaurant has a wall of photos showcasing Ohio celebrities. The pictures are seen behind Fung in his commercial.
The 1950s-themed diner is a popular spot for other video shoots, like a rap video NBC 10 found online.
Campaign finance reports show Fung spent $104,500 with Ohio-based Strategic Media Placement in early June. On June 5, records show nine company employees donated $6,800 to Fung's campaign for governor.
"That suggests some sort of relationship that just doesn't appear completely above board," Schiller said.
The Strategy Group's CEO and Founder Rex Elsass disagrees. He told the I-Team that he encourages his employees to donate to campaigns they work for, including Fung's.
Elsass said the practice is common and that he threw a private fundraiser for the mayor at this Ohio home.
Elsass said his firm shot the commercial close to their production facility in Ohio to keep costs down.
"If it had been shot on a production set in Hollywood, would that have been different?" Elsass said.
"That's a great business strategy for the company in Ohio. I just don't think it's a great political strategy for Allan Fung running in Rhode Island," Schiller said.
Fung's campaign did not return a call for comment Wednesday on the ad.
His opponent, businessman Ken Block, wasted no time in firing back.
Block posted a picture of himself on Twitter at John's Restaurant in Cranston, calling it a "great small business near Cranston City Hall. Great location for a commercial."