Anti-Bush Group's TV Ads May Be Illegal, Republicans Say

July 7, 2008 - 8:30 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A liberal advocacy group plans to start running anti-Bush TV ads in 17 battleground states beginning on Thursday, but the Republican Party believes the group may be violating campaign finance law.

The MoveOn.org Voter Fund said its new ads will focus on "jobs issues, including overtime pay and outsourcing, and the economic insecurity felt by many working families."

In some states, the group will run its "Child's Pay" ad, which "highlights the Bush budget deficit." (The "Child's Pay" ad won MoveOn.org's "Bush-in-30-seconds" ad contest in January.)

The MoveOn.org Voter Fund describes its ad campaign as an effort to "preserve a level playing field in the national issue debate this year by providing the public with the truth about Bush administration policies."

But Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie wonders if Democrats are breaking new campaign finance laws in their zeal to sully President Bush.

Gillespie noted that the head of MoveOn.org, Wes Boyd, used the word "we" when he expressed concern about being "swamped" with Bush ads after Super Tuesday. "We're going to do our best," Boyd told the Associated Press.

"Who does Mr. Boyd mean exactly by 'we?'" Gillespie asked.

"Coordinating ad strategy with a presidential campaign -- and using non-federal dollars to pay for ads to defeat a candidate for federal office -- is a defiant, knowing and willful violation of the law," Gillespie added.

In a Wednesday morning Fox News interview, Gillespie noted that MoveOn.org takes "nonfederal money," something the Republican and Democrat Parties are not allowed to do.

"Under the new campaign finance laws, you are not allowed to spend nonfederal dollars to defeat a candidate for federal office, so I think it raises a lot of questions and strikes me as just flat-out illegal on its face..."

Gillespie said Democrats have made it clear that they "intend to run one of the dirtiest presidential campaigns in modern politics, and breaking the campaign finance law in order to defeat the president is something it seems they're willing to accept."

A spokeswoman for the Kerry campaign has denied coordinating ad strategy with MoveOn.org.

But the point remains, Gillespie said MoveOn.org is "spending nonfederal, 'soft' dollars to defeat a candidate for federal office, and that's a violation of campaign finance law."

The MoveOn.org Voter Fund describes itself as "a Section 527 political committee that runs campaigns to inform the public about the policies and programs of the George W. Bush presidency.""

Last fall, the MoveOn.org Voter Fund announced plans to raise $10 million in small contributions from its members to run broadcast ads over a six month period from October through March. The group says it exceeded its fundraising goal -- contributions averaged $60 -- it says it is using that money to make a "substantial TV ad buy."

The MoveOn.org Voter Fund said its new ad will run in 67 markets in 17 states, including Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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