Three Iowa TV stations are refusing to air an ad featuring State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald touting the state-run College Savings Iowa Plan. Station managers say they’re concerned that by airing the ad, they’ll have to offer equal air time to Fitzgerald’s opponent for the same price, which is cheaper than the rate for political advertising.

Sam Clovis, the Republican challenging Fitzgerald’s bid for a ninth term as state treasurer, says the timing of the ads is “suspect.”

“It’s ironic that we are within 90 days of the election and we start to see public service announcements with his likeness,” Clovis says.

State Treasurer Fitzgerald has authorized a $150,000 ad buy to place the commercials on Iowa television stations. Clovis says that’s a poor use of money investors put aside to pay for college expenses.

“As the treasurer of the state, it’s your job to make sure that you’re a good steward of the wealth of the state,” says Clovis, who vows not to appear in such commercials if he’s elected.

The ad is similar to advertising featuring Fitzgerald that ran before the 2010 election. Fitzgerald’s 2010 opponent called on Fitzgerald to pull the ads, but Fitzgerald’s chief deputy has said September is the month they routinely promote the College Savings Iowa program. Republicans argue the program could be promoted without Fitzgerald being a part of the ad, but the deputy state treasurer has said Fitzgerald’s presence shows potential investors the program is legitimately run by the state treasurer’s office.