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Report: Super PAC to “bury” Duckworth with another $2.5 million in ads

Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012

* Scoop from the Sun-Times

A conservative SuperPAC touting Duckworth rival Joe Walsh is preparing to dump an extra $2.5 million into the heated 8th Congressional District race — on top of $2 million it has already spent, a source familiar with the plan told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The idea is to “bury Duckworth,” the source said.

The revelation comes a day after Duckworth reported that she personally raised more than five times as much as Walsh did in the last quarter — about $1.5 million to the Republican’s $251,000. That means that the Now or Never SuperPAC spent eight times what Walsh was able to raise himself in the last quarter.

The Duckworth campaign and the DCCC failed to define Joe Walsh early with paid media. They counted on the Democratic map and Walsh’s horrible reputation to sink the freshman Republican. And they figured Duckworth’s very solid fundraising was probably enough. So far, they’ve been wrong on all counts. As I’ve said before, Duckworth hasn’t lost it yet, but the Democrats are in real danger there.

* Meanwhile, both campaigns have filed what look like almost meaningless complaints against each other

Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh helped found a group that is the top contributor to a SuperPAC supporting his re-election bid.

Walsh’s campaign says he hasn’t been involved with the group, Americans for Limited Government, for a decade. By law, SuperPACs and the candidates they support cannot have direct contact. […]

Walsh attacked Duckworth for being several hours late in filing her complete third-quarter campaign finance report. He has subsequently filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission.

* More on Now or Never

In filings with the Federal Elections Commission, it appears Now or Never began as a group of Missouri business men interested in helping state treasurer Sarah Steelman win the Show-Me State’s GOP Senate primary in August. But when Steelman finished third, Now or Never went quiet.

But on the same day Now or Never started its TV ad buys to help Walsh, the PAC received a $1 million contribution from Americans for Limited Government. Eleven days later, another donation from ALG came in for a little less, $950,000.

Why would ALG, a conservative group that advocates for a more limited federal government and reduced spending, go to the trouble funneling almost $2 million through a Missouri PAC instead of doing it directly themselves?

We got this from ALG communications director Richard Manning by e-mail: “Now or Never PAC does an impressive job of fighting for free market principles, which are in alignment with Americans for Limited Government, and we are proud to support it.”

* And

Every penny received by Now or Never in September, when it launched its Illinois ad blitz,came from a Virginia-based nonprofit called Americans for Limited Government. ALG forked over, in two payments, a whopping $1.95 million. As a nonprofit, ALG doesn’t disclose its donors.

Americans for Limited Government was co-founded in 1996 by real estate investor Howard Rich, who also serves on the boards of the Cato Institute and the Club for Growth. According to Politico, ALG has been among the recipients of funding from the extensive donor networkestablished by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. ALG has also employedSean Noble, according to Politico, who helped to oversee how the Koch donor network’s contributions were spent.

Ray Wotring, a spokesman for ALG, refused to say who funds his organization. “We as a practice don’t reveal our donors,” he says. Wotring also declined to say why ALG contributed to Now or Never. Harber, a spokesman for Now or Never, says in an email that the super-PAC discloses all of its donors. “ALG isn’t our first, last, or only donor,” Harber notes. “We can’t compel them to disclose their donors, but we have done everything we can to be as transparent and accessible as possible.”

* Related…

* Less glitz, glamour in local debate prep: Walsh, sources said, relies on some training he received in the mid-1980s in stage, theater and television at the Lee Strasburg Theatre and Film Institute in New York.

* Heritage Action for America Goes Duckworth Hunting: Earlier this year, Walsh received a 93 percent rating on the foundation’s scorecard, one of the highest in Congress — far higher than any other member of the Illinois delegation. Walsh won the organization’s approval by voting to repeal Obamacare, to block loans to green energy companies, and to disapprove of the administration’s waiver of welfare-to-work requirements. Heritage Action for America has paid Walsh back for his commitment to conservative principles by opening a Victory Center in the 8th District, and with a new website, “5 Facts About Tammy Duckworth.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


25 Comments
  1. - dang - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 9:23 am:

    Welcome to Illinois, Koch brothers. Not! I keep hoping the citizens united decision was the supreme court playing a cruel joke on all of us to make us finally see how money is destroying our democracy.


  2. - BigDoggie - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 9:24 am:

    Saw this mentioned on Chicago local NBC news last night after the debate and I’m virtually certain they reported it as $25 million. I made a mental note to myself at the time that it sounded like a ridiculously high amount to pour into this race.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 9:24 am:

    ===The Duckworth campaign and the DCCC failed to define Joe Walsh early with paid media. They counted on the Democratic map and Walsh’s horrible reputation to sink the freshman Republican. And they figured Duckworth’s very solid fundraising was probably enough. So far, they’ve been wrong on all counts. As I’ve said before, Duckworth hasn’t lost it yet, but the Democrats are in real danger there.===

    Well, with the horse out of the barn, should Duckworth close that barn door?

    Joe Walsh and his two races are going to be “textbook” for how TO and how NOT TO run campaigns on all 4 counts, (Bean v. Walsh, Walsh v. Duckworth). Duckworth went DC, and instead of taking it to Walsh, defining him, knocking him down, keeping him down, defining him … all those moves are the moves of a challenger trying to take out an incumbent (Walsh v. Bean, anyone?) and Duckworth became what Bean WAS, less being the incumbent AND then as a challenger not going after the incumbent compounded her errors at least two fold.

    Yikes, how badly can you manage a campaign? Running as Bean, like Bean, with Bean-esque errors, and being that challenger to boot is going to be Duckworth’s downfall if she fails to win.

    Gotta hand it to Walsh, in the purist, political campaigning, forget if you agree with him, don’t agree with him, whatever, Walsh knows how to get things done, with all the luck he gets, and all the assets he has, to offset the Walsh negatives and get to a finish line. Just WOW!


  4. - OneMan - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 9:27 am:

    Well if nothing else, it says the polling is close enough that someone feels the urge to spend that kind of money…


  5. - Niles Townhip - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 9:39 am:

    Never have liked Walsh for all the usual reasons, but I’d love to see the upset of him winning happen because it would just stun Durbin, Madigan, Jan and the other locals Dems. The “organization” Dems should be taught the lesson that they can’t “manage” (gerrymander etc.) the population. We manage them.


  6. - MrJM - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 9:51 am:

    Watching the DCCC bumble-goof yet another collar-county race has convinced me to never again send them a check. From now on, I’ll give money directly to candidates.

    Or just throw it down a well.

    – MrJM


  7. - anon - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 9:52 am:

    The question I would raise to everyone else on these boards, is what can Duckworth do at this point? Besides more commercials, she clearly can out work Walsh, as he seems to be everywhere in the district. He “won” the last debate and she looked lost as soon as she was off her talking points. I don’t completely agree with the man’s policies but you have to give it to him. I just wonder if this race is going to be over if he wins the debate tomorrow night.


  8. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 9:55 am:

    ===. I just wonder if this race is going to be over if he wins the debate tomorrow night. ===

    Unlike presidential debates, congressional debates are not widely watched (or listened to, in the case of the last Walsh/Duckworth debate). It takes a big goof to move numbers in one of those debates and lots of TV ads.


  9. - Boone's is Back - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 10:21 am:

    All roads lead back to Koch


  10. - Will Caskey - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 10:35 am:

    At the risk of engaging in some ref working- public polling wasn’t tight in July. It tightened in late August and Duckworth went up with a positive and a contrast in September. Now public polling is all over the map.

    You can week three-quarterback that decision with all the hindsight you want but this is not an epic strategy failure. In fact it’s pretty textbook. Almost all of the campaigns I’ve worked on have employed similar strategies, and I can’t remember a single one that charged out of the gate with a pure negative in response to polling dropping under a double-digit lead in August.


  11. - OneMan - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 10:37 am:

    Will..

    Most incumbents are not Joe Walsh


  12. - Will Caskey - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    You’re absolutely right, OneMan. Most incumbents don’t get outraised by their challengers in all pre-general quarters of an election year.

    I mean I guess he has some magical qualities on account of having mangled personal finances or whatever but from a consultant’s eye one does not typically just guess that this guy is, for no quantifiable reason, really awesome.


  13. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 10:49 am:

    ===but from a consultant’s eye one does not typically just guess that this guy is, for no quantifiable reason, really awesome.===

    Well, then that’s a serious mistake after what he did in 2010.


  14. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 10:51 am:

    These non-profits that do not have to reveal donors — is there anything to prevent, say, organized crime or foreign intelligence services from bankrolling their own groups to influence U.S. elections?

    It would seem to be pretty easy to wash some money and set up shop.


  15. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 10:55 am:

    I have a hard time faulting Duckworth for not defining Walsh early in the campaign. Walsh was well defined as an “extremist”, “nut”, “wacko”, “dead beat” etc before the race even started. It’s just the problem with an assault on character is it’s easily and quickly dispelled. Walsh did just that in the very first debate. You’ve got to offer voters more than a character assassination (especially when voters assume the worst of politicians anyways) and Duckworth just hasn’t done that.


  16. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 11:25 am:

    ===Walsh was well defined as an “extremist”, “nut”, “wacko”, “dead beat” etc before the race even started.===

    Really? If that is your story, I wish you well.

    It seems that it couldn’t be “well defined” sinceit appears they are NOW trying to define him.

    Yeah … I dunno if Walsh was “well defined”


  17. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 11:25 am:

    Another $2.5M in three weeks? Is there even that much airtime left to buy? And with early voting five days from now, how much impact can they have?

    Maybe this is really more of a regional demonstration of Koch-donors’ power and loyalty for the base. It’s just chicken feed for them.

    This whole dark campaign money system is out of control and frightful.


  18. - Catman - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 11:51 am:

    “things done, with all the luck he gets, and all the assets he has, to offset the Walsh negatives and get to a finish line. Just WOW! ”

    Sounds like just the qualities I’d want for my representative in DC…


  19. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    - Catman -

    You took from my post …

    “things done, with all the luck he gets, and all the assets he has, to offset the Walsh negatives and get to a finish line. Just WOW! ”

    Then you decided to post …

    ===Sounds like just the qualities I’d want for my representative in DC… ===

    Oops, you forgot something …

    ===Gotta hand it to Walsh, in the purist, political campaigning, forget if you agree with him, don’t agree with him, whatever, …===

    Funny … that “context” thingy people talk about, …makes a big difference when reading something as it was intended.

    I think, … now I am quite sure … I was talking about … how did I put it … “the purist political campaigning”?

    Please take my quotes as they are intended, not like you would like them to be.

    Thanks.


  20. - ZC - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 12:14 pm:

    wordslinger,

    To answer your question, these nonprofits will ultimately report their donors to the IRS - so maybe, at the end of the day, the IRS might be in a position to investigate such issues.

    If it’s got the manpower and the interest, of course. That’s a big if. The point of disclosure was so we could crowd-source this kind of thing, if anyone in the “marketplace of ideas” could spot the bogus donor, then it would catch on. Now it’s all on the IRS to police, for every single one of these dummy nonprofits. A lot of dreck may slip through.

    Can we imagine if this system had been in place in Illinois when Blago ran for governor? “Just give it to my nonprofit 501c4.” The corporations would have been dropping million dollar checks in an undisclosed account and he would have been getting secret spreadsheets, all the while swearing on a stack of Bibles that he had no idea who was funding these outside groups.

    We are so heading for a mega-federal scandal down the pike.


  21. - Shore - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 12:20 pm:

    I’ve watched all of her debates. She’s been a lousy general election candidate, it isn’t just the campaign. She was horribly unprepared in her debates and ed boards and notably shifted messages earlier in the fall from I’m with obam and walsh is bad too I’m bipartisan and sensible. She, like her former boss Obama and unlike her other former boss blago’s #2 pat quinn has not figured out how to sell her message with a stiff political wind in her face this time.

    That theater group walsh worked with has some pretty impressive alumni. Wonder if he worked with any of them and what they thought of him back then.


  22. - Charlie Foxtrot - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 2:15 pm:

    I’ve been hearing this for the last 3 week–but on the other hand I’ve also been hearing that Axelrod and friends were pouring $20MM in Tammy’s race.

    Please pardon me if I think it’s both sides attempting to minimize apathy, wring every dollar out of every interested donor and get every voter to the polls.


  23. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 2:36 pm:

    I don’t normally vote for/against people based on their likability. Even if I agreed with him politically, I would make an exception in Joe Walsh’s case.


  24. - kimocat - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 4:42 pm:

    I would think that voters in Walsh’s district might want to ask themselves what good old Joe promised the Kochs and their buddies for all this cash — because if he is re-elected, he definitely working for the Kochs, not his constituents.


  25. - Responsa - Wednesday, Oct 17, 12 @ 5:10 pm:

    Even with all the “Koch money” in the world, considering Joe’s baggage and the redistricting map had Tammy run a decent campaign– and had she been an inspiring and involved and prepared candidate– Walsh would be toast. She’s a nice lady but her last campaign was lackluster and so was this one. Many people who are “for” Tammy have been saying the same thing both privately and openly for months. Blaming outside money may make some people feel better but it really just continues to mask the true problem here.


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