Anti-McAuliffe “Documentary” Continues Citizens United’s Long History Of Dishonest Propaganda

If the Citizens United “documentary” on Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe looks like a right-wing hack job, don’t be surprised. The group, known primarily for the Supreme Court decision that helped pave the way for the proliferation of outside spending in elections, has churned out viciously dishonest propaganda for years.

The very film that spawned the landmark campaign finance case was a transparent attempt to trash Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary by calling her a “congenital liar” and “the closest thing we have in America to a European socialist” – and it isn’t even the most inflammatory Citizens United production in recent years. “Celsius 41.11,” a response to Fahrenheit 9/11, juxtaposed images of Hitler, 9/11, and dead children with Michael Moore, John Kerry, and anti-war protesters. The group’s 2008 Obama hit job claimed that Obama “thinks infanticide is acceptable.” And “America At Risk,” Newt Gingrich’s Islamophobic film warning that a “war will go on until the entire world either embraces Islam or submits to Islamic rule,” was also a Citizens United Production.

That kind of incendiary rhetoric is the norm for Citizens United and its leaders, co-founder Floyd Brown and president David Bossie, whose resumes are full of panned ad campaigns and electoral strategies. Brown was behind the behind the infamous 1988 “Willie Horton” ad, which exploited racial fears by linking crimes committed by Horton, who is African-American, to a program authorized by Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis when he was governor of Massachusetts. Two decades later, Brown was still putting together controversial ads, including a 2008 spot drawing a connection between then-candidate Obama and Chicago gang murders. He also authored a “vicious” book on Bill Clinton, accusing the Democrat of “promoting witchcraft and fostering blasphemy,” in which Brown gave special thanks to segregationist and White Citizens Council leader Jim Johnson.

Bossie has been president of the organization since 2001, a position he assumed after nearly a decade as the group’s director of political affairs, during which time he relentlessly sought to undermine President Clinton. A former investigator for the House Oversight Committee, Bossie was dismissed in 1998 after releasing transcripts of phone calls that had been edited to implicate Hillary Clinton in a scandal at her former law firm. Together, Brown and Bossie co-authored Prince Albert, a 192-page hit job on Al Gore.

In addition to its films and ad campaigns, Citizens United consistently lends financial support to extreme right-wing candidates through its political action committee. Among the recipients of Citizen United contributions in recent years are Reps. Michele Bachmann, Allen West, Steve King, and Todd Akin. Furthermore, one of Citizens United’s affiliates has endorsed McAuliffe’s opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, and given him over $100,000 since 2008 – not including the cost to produce Citizens United’s anti-McAuliffe movie.

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Super PAC For America: “Obamacare Hurts Seniors: Here’s How!”

Dick Morris’ literally named “Super PAC for America” a flagrantly dishonest ad against President Obama’s health care law, forgoing all the nuance and subtlety usually used by other conservative groups to skirt the truth in favor of blunt falsehoods. Far from weakening Medicare, the law extents the program’s solvency by eight years, and rather than ending Medicare Advantage, the Affordable Care Act shores up traditional Medicare by decreasing overpayments to the private alternative that end up driving up the traditional program’s premiums. Virtually every word of the ad’s claims about the Independent Payment Advisory Board is also false: the “unaccountable” board is actually Senate-confirmed, the board is specifically prohibited from cutting Medicare benefits, and Congress can override the board’s recommendations by finding alternate savings or rejecting them with a supermajority.

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U.S. Chamber Of Commerce: “PA Senate – Bob Casey”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce accuses Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) of “voting against western Pennsylvania” by supporting the health care law, a cap-and-trade bill, and EPA regulations designed to cut down on toxic air pollution. But the Affordable Care Act doesn’t, as the ad suggests, cut any money out of Medicare’s current budget. The estimate of job losses the ad cites for the cap-and-trade law comes from the right-wing Heritage Foundation, and the EPA’s air toxics regulations would prevent an estimated 11,000 premature deaths per year.

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Crossroads GPS: “No Clue”

An ad from Crossroads GPS nonsensically attacks New Mexico Senate candidate Rep. Martin Heinrich both for too much spending and for a vote that may result in spending cuts. In reality, it was the recession and policies like the Bush tax cuts – both rounds of which Heinrich’s opponent voted for – that drove up debt. The automatic spending cuts are looming thanks to Republicans’ refusal to compromise on deficit reduction; when Heinrich voted for the last-minute deal that imposed those cuts as an incentive for a super committee to find compromise on deficit reduction, his primary concern was raising the debt limit and avoiding the economic catastrophe that would have resulted from default.

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American Crossroads: “Four Years”

American Crossroads accuses Senate candidate Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) of “voting for Barack Obama’s agenda,” pointing to the health care reform law and a 2009 budget vote. Contrary to the ad’s claims, however, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t “cut” Medicare, and while the budget Donnelly supported letting Bush tax cuts expire for top earners, few of those in the top brackets are actual small businesses.

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Americans for Tax Reform: “Tax Raising Politician (OH-06)”

Americans for Tax Reform targets former Ohio congressman Charlie Wilson’s (D) support for ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which the group claims will hurt small businesses and kill jobs. However, conservatives rely on a dubious definition of “small business,” and allowing the top tax bracket to return to its pre-Bush level would not affect many actual employers. In addition, ATR’s charge that phasing out the tax breaks would cause job losses is based on a flawed study that assumes the revenue will not go toward deficit reduction, which is exactly what Wilson and other Democrats have proposed.

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Americans for Tax Reform: “Wrong Prescription for New York”

Americans for Tax Reform attacks Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) for supporting the Affordable Care Act, relying on a series of distortions about the law’s impact. In reality, the ACA does not raise taxes on most Americans, and it actually reduces the burden on many middle-class families. Moreover, the law reduces future Medicare spending without cutting seniors’ benefits, and the Senate-confirmed board responsible for finding additional savings is forbidden from cutting benefits or rationing care.

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American Crossroads: “Silent”

American Crossroads blames Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) for debt that was caused by the recession and policies like the Bush tax cuts, both rounds of which his opponent supported. The ad cites a series of votes to prove its point, but the votes were primarily on bills to prop up a floundering housing market and economy or to raise the debt ceiling, a maneuver that doesn’t authorize new spending but does prevent the economic catastrophe that would result from defaulting on our obligations.

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Congressional Leadership Fund: “Join Me”

Congressional Leadership Fund claims Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) “stood with Obama for Obamacare,” but Barrow voted against the Affordable Care Act and currently supports amending the law while acknowledging that “all or nothing” repeal would be harmful. The ad also misleads about the health care law’s effect on Medicare – it doesn’t cut benefits – and about the Recovery Act, which helped prevent an even deeper recession. Furthermore, Georgia has gained over 80,000 jobs since the end of the devastating recession that’s responsible for millions of job losses nationwide, even though the ad tries to blame Georgia’s economic difficulties on Barrow.

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Restore Our Future: “Flatline”

A Restore Our Future ad titled “Flatline” suggests that the economy is “dead” and will stay that way as long as President Obama is in office. That’s absurd: Under Obama, the enormous monthly job losses President Bush left behind have turned into steady private-sector growth, including 4.97 million new jobs in the last 32 months.

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