On Monday we learned that just two conservative nonprofits have spent more on television ads in the presidential race than every super PAC combined. ProPublica’s tally of advertising data shows that Americans for Prosperity and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS have aired a combined $59.9 million in “ads mentioning a candidate for president.”
There is plenty of action further down the ticket as well. Of the 14 ads Bridge Project fact checked in the last week, just two targeted President Obama. Eight came from Crossroads GPS, three from the 60 Plus Association (on which more below), two from AFP, and one from the Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. AFP’s ads (one in the Wisconsin Senate race, the other an explicit recommendation against voting for Obama) focused on debt and the health care law. The debt – and dishonest claims about its sources – were the focus of three of Crossroads GPS’ ads, while multiple ads disingenuously accused senators of voting to tax small businesses. A pair of Crossroads GPS ads in the Virginia Senate contest misrepresented Tim Kaine’s record as governor and his stance on defense spending.
Recalculating: Crossroads GPS Takes A Detour In North Dakota
In an effort to paint well–liked North Dakota Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp as a corrupt politician, Crossroads GPS cycled through a series of attempted hits on her service as the state’s attorney general. But the group succeeded only in demonstrating its willingness to blatantly distort the facts. The first ad, “Hiding Taxes,” alleged that Heitkamp “spent taxpayer dollars on private planes.” But the same Bismarck Tribune article the ad cited said the planes were provided by the federal government at no charge, and that the Attorney General was using them to catch drug traffickers. The lie exposed, Crossroads GPS took the rare step of pulling the ad down, only to put it back up with the planes claim rewritten. The new language – Heitkamp “allowed staff to fly a taxpayer-funded plane” – stretches so hard to sound scandalous that it’s almost funny.
By the end of the week, a third Heitkamp attack was on North Dakota airwaves, this one accusing her of a “pay to play” scheme with a lawyer who worked on the multi-state Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies. Rather than misrepresent real reporting, this time Crossroads GPS just cited the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page and a right-wing talk radio host’s blog. Actual news reports and documentary evidence disprove the ad’s claims.
Ain’t That A Shame: 60 Plus And Pat Boone To Lie To Seniors
The 60 Plus Association calls itself the conservative AARP, and since late last year it’s been using aging crooner Pat Boone as its emissary to the seniors it claims to represent. This week voters in Montana, Florida and Ohio are seeing Boone label the Affordable Care Act “disastrous” and fearmonger about bureaucrats who will “deny you the care you deserve.” This is 60 Plus’ wheelhouse, and with Medicare taking up more and more of the national conversation, expect them to keep hinting at the “death panels” characterization of health care reform.