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Media Notebook 1 - 10 of 17

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Freedom Works / Citizens for a Sound Economy

This group, headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), made more than a million phone calls in battleground states, the LA Times reported.

Posted 11-15-2004 10:30 AM // link

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American Taxpayers Alliance

Democrats in Vermont complained about an advertising campaign run by the American Taxpayers Alliance that criticized lieutenant governor candidate Cheryl Rivers, the Montpelier Times Argus reported. The paper termed the ads' characterization of Rivers’ remarks as "out-of-context and distorted."

The ad provided Rivers' home telephone number, then urged people to call her at home and tell her they would not vote for her.

"We have a campaign finance law to make sure that when some media goes on the air, we all know who is doing it and what they're paying for it," Rivers said.

Rivers won by more than 20 percentage points.

Posted 11-15-2004 10:24 AM // link

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce

More details are emerging about the 2004 campaign efforts of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The group’s budget for the recent campaign “will approach $40 million,” the LA Times reported.

The Chamber "sent 20 million e-mails to members and others in eight targeted states that had closely contested Senate campaigns," the Washington Post reported. "The U.S. Chamber also sent out about 3 million pieces of direct mail, made 2.1 million phone calls and purchased millions of Web ads that encouraged employees to get out and vote for pro-business and often Republican candidates."

Posted 11-15-2004 10:21 AM // link

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Let Freedom Ring

Let Freedom Ring, a 501(c)(4) group, has sent thousands of copies of a DVD praising President Bush to pastors around the country, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The video praises President Bush and other conservatives as "keepers of America's long faith tradition," the Inquirer reported, against "those who would have those guiding lights completely snuffed out."

Because Let Freedom Ring was aware that pastors might fear that showing the video would violate the prohibition against churches becoming involved in political activities, the group sent guidance from the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization, the Inquirer said.

If a church is "threatened" by the IRS, the Alliance Defense Fund said, its lawyers would get involved.

But Jeremy Leaming, spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the piece was partisan. "It's blatantly political," he said. "It looks like a Bush ad created by the [Republican National Committee]."

Let Freedom Ring has received $1 million from John Templeton, an evangelical who heads a foundation under his name, the Inquirer reported earlier.

The group chose to incorporate as a 501(c) specifically because it sought to avoid having to disclose its donors, according to an earlier Wall Street Journal we summarized here.

Posted 10-29-2004 4:05 PM // link

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber has followed through on its promise to be an active participant in this fall's elections, but the absense of disclosure requirements and the group’s practice of operating through other groups have made it difficult to nail down all of the details.
This summer, the Chamber established a 527 group, the November Fund, to attack trial lawyers, with a focus on vice presidential candidate John Edwards. So far, all but $53,000 of the group’s revenue has come from the Chamber itself, the Center for Public Integrity reports. The November Fund’s reliance on corporate money appears to have kept it off television airwaves, but the group is running Internet commercials.
A commentary on the November Fund’s fundraising woes appeared in the Wall Street Journal. (No subscription is necessary to view it on this blogger’s site. Search on “Murray). "Big business has been more constrained than any other group" by campaign-finance reforms, said U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue.
The Chamber also has been active in state judicial contests. It has contributed at least $2 million to the Illinois Republican Party and at least $200,000 to the political action committee of the Illinois Civil Justice League. The state party, in turn, has spent at least $1.8 million and the Illinois Civil Justice League at least $1 million on behalf of state Supreme Court candidate Lloyd Karmeier (R), according to the Illinois Campaign for Legal Reform.
The Chamber also has contributed at least $500,000 to Citizens for Strong Ohio, an offshoot of the Ohio Chamber, that is running ads advocating for state supreme court candidates Terrence O’Donnell and Judith Lanzinger, according to the Toledo Blade.
Meanwhile, the Chamber itself is sending foot soldiers all over the country. The Journal commentary said that the Chamber is  "also working aggressively in as many as 30 congressional races."

Posted 10-29-2004 2:59 PM // link

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Americans for Job Security

AJS unleashed a three-medium attack against Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.): full-page newspaper ads, robo calls, followed up by direct mailers, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported.

Public Citizen has also obtained a copy of an AJS mailer attacking John Kerry. A summary is available here.

Posted 10-29-2004 12:50 PM // link

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American Family Voices

AFV has released a documentary criticizing President Bush’s management of the Iraq war.

The group’s Web site contains links to a television commerial and a 60-second excerpt from the documentary, but the link to the commercial was broken as of Oct. 28. The script of the documentary excerpt is provided here.

Posted 10-29-2004 12:39 PM // link

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Seniors Coalition

The Hartford Courant has coverage of the Seniors Coalition’s support for Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., and the Democratic response. The Seniors Coalition has praised Johnson via robocalls, followed up by direct mailers, for her vote on the Medicare prescription drug bill. The story, written by the Associated Press, also reported that the Seniors Coalition is active in a total of "25 to 30" states.

Contests in which the Seniors Coalition is active include the Alaska U.S. Senate race pitting Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) against Tony Knowles (D), according to a letter to the editor in the Anchorage Daily News.

The group also is active in the Utah congressional rematch between Rep. Jim Matheson (D) and John Swallow (R), according to the Deseret Morning News. The group is supporting Matheson, marking the first case Public Citizen has discovered in which the Seniors Coalition has backed a Democrat. Coverage of the Utah contest includes news that the United Seniors Association also is sending out mail thanking Matheson for his vote on the Medicare prescription drug bill.

Posted 10-29-2004 12:23 PM // link

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Americans for Job Security

Americans for Job Security [501(c)(6)] is under investigation by a Texas grand jury for potential violations of a law prohibiting the use of corporate money to influence state elections, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Prosecutors have been investigating AJS since a Texas watchdog group filed a criminal complaint in January alleging that corporate money was funneled through AJS to pay for attack ads against a state representative just days before a six-way special election.

At issue is whether the ads were intended to influence an election, which would make them subject to Texas election law, and whether they were funded with corporate money. AJS has refused to reveal its donors, which is its right as a Section 501(c) group.

The Texas representative attacked by AJS, Republican Tommy Merritt, last year opposed his own party’s redistricting plan that was being pushed through the legislature at the behest of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Americans for Job Security argued that the ads attacking Merritt weren’t intended to influence the election but rather to further AJS’s promotion of "pro-paycheck issues."

Fred Lewis, president of Campaigns for People, the group that filed the complaint against AJS, said the attack ads were more likely retaliation for Merritt’s vote on redistricting. Lewis noted that AJS did not air its ads during the legislative session, when the bills were being debated, but rather in the closing days of an election campaign.

Posted 10-05-2004 3:38 PM // link

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Law Enforcement Alliance of America

The Law Enforcement Alliance of America [501(c)(4)] has been sued by a pair of Texas Democrats whom the group targeted with attack ads in 2002, the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday.

The lawsuit charges that the LEAA violated a state prohibition against the use of corporate money to influence Texas elections and claims the LEAA also violated Texas law by failing to disclose its donors.

The LEAA spent an estimated $1.5 million on TV commercials in 2002 that accused attorney general candidate Kirk Watson of making “millions suing doctors, hospitals and small businesses” while the praising Watson’s Republican opponent for believing in "common-sense lawsuit reform."

The LEAA also distributed direct mail pieces that said Democratic legislative candidate Mike Head, a criminal defense lawyer, was "on the side of convicted baby killers and murderers."

Both Watson and Head lost their races.

Watson and Head’s lawsuit also names John Colyandro, former director of Texans for a Republican Majority, a Section 527 organization established by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). Colyandro was indicted earlier this month on felony charges that accuse him of laundering money through the Republican National Committee to convert $190,000 in corporate contributions into non-corporate money, which was subsequently contributed to state House candidates.

The LEAA received $4.5 million in 2002 from an unidentified benefactor or benefactors, tax records reportedly show. Travis County prosecutors hypothesize that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was the undisclosed contributor, the Statesman reported.

Posted 09-30-2004 12:01 PM // link

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