Conservative nonprofit Let Freedom Ring attempts to link President Barack Obama to child soldiers in a new ad focusing on the United States’ military aid to certain countries in Africa and the Middle East.
The ad opens with brief background on child soldiers and notes that Sen. Obama supported a bill that restricted American aid to countries that use child soldiers in militaries and state-backed militias.
“This was the right thing to do. It’s what leaders do,” the narrator says. “But then, as president, Obama waived these restrictions, allowing millions of our taxpayer dollars to go to countries where children as young as 11 — 11! — are forced to fight.”
“Why, Mr. President? Why?” the ad finishes.
In 2011, Obama waived restrictions on military aid to countries that the U.S. has identified as using child soldiers, despite the 2008 Child Soldiers Protection Act that he, as senator, supported.
The states that received waivers — Sudan, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Yemen — were considered key to American national security interests. Burma and Somalia, the other two countries identified in a 2010 State Department report as using child soldiers, were not granted waivers, the Christian Science Monitor reported.
The move sparked controversy not only because it appeared that the Obama administration was overlooking human rights abuses, but also because it sidestepped Congress’ authority and appeared to not adequately consult human rights activists, Foreign Policy reported.
Let Freedom Ring is not required to publicly disclose its donors because of its status as a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization. However, Federal Election Commission reports in 2009 and 2010 show John Templeton Jr. was the primary backer.
Templeton, a physician by trade, is the eldest son of wealthy investor and philanthropist John Templeton. The younger Templeton is the chairman and president of the John Templeton Foundation, whose CFO, Valerie Martin, serves on the board of Let Freedom Ring, according to tax filings.
The group's only reported independent expenditure this election cycle is $5,601 spent on a TV ad and website development. Let Freedom Ring has produced several ads this election season, such as the recent “Muslim Brotherhood” and “Uncle Sam Sheds a Tear.”
Let Freedom Ring runs a variety of websites, including WhyMrPresidentWhy.org, which opposes Obama, GasolineIsTooDamnHigh.com, which advocates for more oil drilling, WheresYourPlan.com, which focuses on the debt ceiling and Medicare reform, BBAorBust.com, which supports a balanced budget amendment, TheirOwnWords.com, which promotes “jihadist awareness,” JobsThroughGrowth.com, which supports cutting corporate taxes and rolling back regulations, and WeNeedaFence.com, which supports tighter immigration laws, including a fence at the Mexican border.
In other outside spending news:
- Pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future released “Disappearing,” which refers to the Americans who have dropped out of the work force because they could not find jobs.
- The Lunch Pail Republicans Independent Expenditure Only PAC, a super PAC, reported spending $253,000 total in support of Republicans in eight districts, including five in Illinois. The organization, based in Indiana and also active in Indiana state legislative races, supports limited government and unions.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent a total $2 million opposing three candidates for U.S. Senate: $439,000 on “It’s Good,” which opposes former Maine Gov. Angus King, an independent; $445,000 on “Failed,” which opposes Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.; and $1.1 million on “American Energy,” which opposes Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
- Crossroads GPS, a conservative nonprofit that began a major ad campaign yesterday, reported spending a total $2.4 million opposing Obama, Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. Bishop is running for re-election in New York’s 1st District, and Berkley and Baldwin are running for U.S. Senate. American Crossroads, the sister super PAC of Crossroads GPS, reported $10.1 million in total spending against Obama and for Romney.
- The National Federation of Independent Businesses/Save America’s Free Enterprise Trust, the PAC of the NFIB, reported spending $638,000 opposing former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack, a Democrat running for U.S. House in the state’s 4th District, and supporting former county executive Maggie Brooks, a Republican running for U.S. house in New York’s 25th District.
- SEIU COPE, the PAC of the Service Employees International Union, reported spending $590,000 opposing Romney and five Republican candidates for U.S. House as well as supporting Democrat Cheri Bustos in Illinois’ 17th District. SEIU PEA Federal, the union’s super PAC, reported spending a total $1.9 million on the presidential race and in support of Democrats in numerous Senate and House races.
- AFSCME PEOPLE, the PAC of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, released “17 Days” on Wednesday, which opposes former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle for handing down school furloughs. Lingle, a Republican, is running against Rep. Mazie Hirono for U.S. Senate in Hawaii.
- The NRA Political Victory Fund, the PAC of the National Rifle Association, reported spending $440,000 on online advertising opposing Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Brown in Ohio, and former Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Virginia.
- “Changed,” from conservative nonprofit American Future Fund, opposes Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who is running for U.S. House in Arizona’s new 9th District. Sinema, a former Arizona state senator, faces Republican Vernon Parker, a former Paradise Valley city councilman.
- In “Ending Medicare, Outsourcing Jobs,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee opposes the election of North Carolina state Sen. David Rouzer, a Republican, to U.S. House in the state’s 7th District. Rouzer is challenging Democratic incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre.
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