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McCain Challenger J.D. Hayworth Appeared in "Free Money" Infomercial

J.D. Hayworth, who is challenging Sen. John McCain in Arizona's Republican Senate primary, is under fire after an Arizona Republic report that he starred in a 2007 television infomercial promoting "free money" seminars.

The spot (watch the clip at left) was the work of a group called National Grants Conferences, which claimed it could show people who attended its seminars how to get approved for federal grants worth thousands of dollars.

In the ad, Hayworth -- then just a year removed from losing his Congressional seat -- validated the company's claims and repeatedly called them "for real."

"But I'm telling you, this is really true," Hayworth says in the infomercial. "About 25 years ago, a decision [was] made to get money in the hands of the American people. And though we talk about it as if it's free money, let me remind you, it's not free money, it's your money. It's money you've already surrendered to the government in terms of taxation, but the government has a chance, and you have chance, to make an investment in yourself..."

A 2009 investigation conducted by KVOA, a Tuscon-based television station, suggested that the company may have been acting fraudulently.

The station reported that participants were actually being charged $999 to $1,200 to attend the seminars and that federal government grants were not actually made available to participants. It also showed that the information being provided could, in fact, be found on the Internet for free and that the company had received failing grades from the Better Business Bureau.

Hayworth's spokesman Mark Sanders released a statement downplaying Hayworth's relationship with the company.

"That's basically it," he said. "He did a couple of commercials for them. He hasn't had any relationship with them that has continued since then."

Sanders also noted that McCain received $9,400 in contributions from the National Grants Conferences during his 2008 presidential run.

The McCain campaign quickly responded to the statement, saying that the senator recently donated the money back to charity. They added: "There's clearly no comparison here. J.D. Hayworth lent his name and the credibility of the U.S. Congress to an obvious rip-off scam...Senator McCain obviously never did that."

The McCain campaign also sent supporters emails featuring the Republic's article on Hayworth.

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