Doug Mastriano, the pro-Trump MAGA candidate for Pennsylvania governor, has a campaign ad out now that uses stock footage previously used for Kremlin propaganda.
Mastriano’s ad, which is currently the header image on his campaign’s Facebook page, features an image of two young girls running through a field with the words: “For their future there is hope” superimposed on top.
“On day one, no more boys in the girls' bathrooms or locker rooms, no more pronoun games in the classroom, no more gender transitioning of minors without parental consent, and no more pornography in public school libraries,” Mastriano wrote in a post accompanying the ad earlier this week. “Your vote on 11/8 is a vote for the future of our kids.”
But the two children in the ads are not Pennslyvanian kids. They are not even American kids. The image comes from stock footage hosted by Pexel, a German company that offers free stock imagery, Business Insider reported. The videographer who posted the footage lists his location as Minsk, the capital of Belarus.
And this is not the first time the footage has appeared in a political ad.
At the end of July, footage of the two girls running through the field was used as part of a propaganda ad posted by the Russian embassy in Spain to its Twitter account. The ad was designed as an attempt to convince people to move to Russia. Among the benefits of moving to Russia listed in the video are “no cancel culture,” “an economy that can withstand thousands of sanctions,” and “vodka.”
The two girls running through the field were used to illustrate another apparent benefit of living in Russia: “Beautiful women.”
This is not the first time that Mastriano’s campaign, which is in disarray despite support from former President Donald Trump, has used footage linked to Russia for its ads.
Earlier this month the American Bridge PAC revealed that Mastriano used stock footage from Russia, Belarus, and Poland in a four-minute campaign ad that describes his “vision” for Pennsylvania rather than using video actually shot in the Commonwealth.
Among the clips used in the video is one of a couple playing with a toddler while Mastriano talks about parents making a better country for their kids. The clip in question originated in Russia.
Mastriano has made his name as one of the loudest boosters of conspiracies about the 2020 election being stolen. He is also a member of a national QAnon-linked coalition of MAGA candidates trying to take control of elections within their states.
If Mastriano does win, he has indicated that he may appoint a QAnon-touting election denier as his secretary of state.