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Congressional candidate Tom Emmer plugs remodeler in TV spot

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Political ad? Or a commercial for a Twin Cities contractor? Some say it's hard to tell.

Tom Emmer, who is running for Rep. Michele Bachmann's seat in the 6th Congressional District, appears in a 30-second spot for Elk River-based Integrity Exteriors & Remodelers Inc.

He makes a pitch for the company while standing in front of an "Emmer for Congress" sign.

"Hi, I'm Tom Emmer and I'm running for Congress in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District," Emmer says. "If you're looking for someone to do remodeling, siding or general construction -- residential or commercial -- I can tell you without qualification, you need to call the folks at Integrity Exteriors and Remodelers. They're the best."

The ad, first seen on the left-leaning Bluestem Prairie blog, raises some campaign finance questions, the Associated Press reported. Bluestem suggests the ad may be an attempt to skirt campaign funding regulations.

Campaign spokesman David FitzSimmons said the company, which did work on Emmer's campaign office, had asked Emmer for a testimonial.

"It was not Tom's intention for this testimonial to be used in a broadcast capacity or advertisement for the campaign and we have asked Integrity to discontinue its use," FitzSimmons said in a statement.

FitzSimmons says Emmer and his campaign were not compensated for the endorsement, Politics in Minnesota reports.

Larry Noble, former Federal Elections Commission general counsel, said the ad could violate campaign finance regulations.

Noble told Politics in Minnesota that Emmer's labeling himself a candidate for office and the appearance of the campaign sign means the commercial should qualify as an advertisement for Emmer, and money spent on the ad should be disclosed as a campaign contribution.

Of course, it's up to the commissioners to decide.

The Star Tribune says the corporate plug is something of a political novelty.

"I've never seen a combination of political ad and product promo," Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, told the Star Tribune.

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