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Nonprofit and Super PAC Team Up for Ad Blitz
Wednesday, September 19, 2012

American Action Network and Congressional Leadership Fund launch ads in four states with more to come

Conservative nonprofit American Action Network and its sister super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, have launched a multi-million campaign targeting top congressional races.

The groups, which were both founded by former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and ex-Nixon aide Fred Malek, are spending more than $3 million on ads designed to aid Republicans, with $1.6 million of that coming from the American Action Network, according to a press release from the group.

With just seven weeks until Election Day, the spending comes as part of an advertising barrage on down-ticket races, where groups can often get more bang for their buck. Conservative super PACs American Crossroads and YG Action Fund have also announced plans to target House races in hopes of helping the GOP maintain the majority.

The four ads released by American Action Network Monday targeted races in Minnesota, Illinois and California:

  • Dangerous,” and “Sides,” oppose former Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat, who is running for Congress in Minnesota’s 8th District against Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack. “Dangerous” is running in the Minneapolis media market, and “Sides” is running in Duluth, Minn., according to a press release.
  • Radical Ideas” opposes physician David Gill, a Democrat, in Illinois’ 13th District. Gill faces Republican Rodney Davis, a former aide to Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill. The ad is running in the St. Louis media market.
  • Neighbor” opposes astronaut Jose Hernandez, a Democrat, in California’s 10th District. Hernandez is challenging Rep. Jeff Denham, the Republican incumbent. The ad is running in the Sacramento media market.

American Action Network is organized under section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code, meaning its primary purpose is the promotion of “social welfare,” not electoral politics. It has frequently been criticized by Democratic politicians and campaign finance reformers for being too focused on election-related advertising.

As a nonprofit, American Action Network is not required to publicly disclose its donors. Some donors, however, have been revealed.

For instance, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) gave American Action Network $4.5 million in 2010, as the Center for Public Integritypreviously noted. Additionally, the Center for Responsive Politics found that Crossroads GPS, the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Wellspring Committee and the American Natural Gas Alliance have also contributed to the group.

American Action Network has reported making $1.6 million in independent expenditures so far this election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. According to Politico, it is committed to spending at least $10 million on House races, which are especially vulnerable to outside spending.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Leadership Fund released “Sutton Works for Pelosi,” which opposes Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio. Sutton is running against Republican Rep. Jim Renacci in Ohio’s redrawn 16th District. The ad cost $558,000, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission, as the Center for Public Integrityreported Monday.

The Congressional Leadership Fund is backed by super donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson and Bob Perry. The super PAC’s only reported expenditure so far is the anti-Sutton ad.

In other outside spending news:

  • Conservative super PAC Ending Spending Action Fund began a $10 million campaign called “Agents of Change.” The campaign features voters who supported President Barack Obama in 2008 explaining why they are voting for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney this year.
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released an ad opposing Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, who is running for U.S. Senate in Montana against Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat.
  • The DCCC also released “Broken Record,” opposing Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill. Schilling was also hit with “Time” from House Majority PAC, a pro-Democrat super PAC. He faces a challenge from Democrat Cheri Bustos, a former reporter and nonprofit executive.
  • House Majority PAC also released three other ads: “Principle,” which opposes Rep. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., who faces a challenge from Democratic attorney Ann McLane Kuster; “Profits,” which opposes Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, who faces Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton in Ohio’s 16th District; and “Under Attack,” which opposes Republican John Koster, a county councilman, who is facing off with former Microsoft executive Suzan DelBene, a Democrat, in Washington’s 1st District.
  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reported spending $482,000opposing Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican who faces a challenge from Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley. A new ad from the group criticizes Heller’s support for Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s “premium support” Medicare plan.
  • Center Forward, a nonprofit supporting centrist candidates, has released two new ads. The first, “Skyrocket,” criticizes Republican Mayor Mia Love of Saratoga Springs, Utah, for her record on fighting crime. Love is challenging Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson in Utah’s new 4th District. The second, “Blackboard,” opposes Georgia state Rep. Lee Anderson, a Republican challenging Democratic incumbent John Barrow in Georgia’s 12th District.
  • Obama’s Legacy of Failure” from the PAC Campaign to Defeat Barack Obamacriticizes the president for high unemployment rates, “failed” foreign policy and other issues, including claims debunked by the nonpartisan FactCheck.org.
  • AFSCME PEOPLE, the PAC of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, has released two new ads. One, called “Rooster,” opposes Republican business executive Joe Coors, who is trying to unseat Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter in Colorado’s 7th District. The other, called “Regular Guy,” opposes Republican attorney Keith Rothfus, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Mark Critz in Pennsylvania’s 12th District. The latter ad calls Rothfus a “regular phony” for his claim to be a “regular guy” despite representing a “Wall Street bank.” The bank in question is Bank of New York Mellon, which, while located on Wall Street, also employs 7,500 people in the Pittsburgh area.
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