FreedomWorks for America releases deluge of ads

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, seen here in a new FreedomWorks for America ad, is one of five Democrats targeted by FreedomWorks' new campaign.

Tea Party-aligned super PAC FreedomWorks for America released 11 new ads over the weekend targeting closely contested U.S. Senate races in Florida, Arizona, Ohio, Indiana and Virginia:

FreedomWorks for America is the super PAC component of the former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks network. The super PAC supports economically conservative candidates and has helped tea party-favored candidates triumph over establishment Republican candidates in several senatorial primaries, notably Indiana and Texas, where former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz bested Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

The five U.S. Senate races targeted over the weekend are particularly competitive. Florida and Ohio lean Democrat and both have Democratic incumbents. Arizona and Indiana, both open seats, lean Republican. Virginia, also an open seat, is a tossup, according to The New York Times.

The U.S. Senate contests in Virginia and Ohio have drawn more outside money than almost any other Senate race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Records show that more than one-third of contributions to FreedomWorks for America have come from its affiliated nonprofit, FreedomWorks Inc., which means the source of the money is unknown. (Nonprofits are generally not required to publicly report their donors.)

Ryan Hecker, the super PAC's treasurer and legal counsel, said the ads are just online for now, and the group's initial online ad buy totals about $200,000.

The super PAC has made $3.1 million in independent campaign expenditures so far, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

FreedomWorks was also on the ground on Saturday in Ohio, where its National FreePAC Tour featured Mandel, conservative radio host Glenn Beck and FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe. The event included grassroots training on phone banking, yard sign “blitzes” and door-to-door outreach. The tour will stop in Florida in October.

In other outside spending news:

  • The Congressional Leadership Fund, a conservative super PAC backed by super donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson and Bob Perry, reported its first independent expenditure — $558,000 in television ads opposing the re-election of Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio. Sutton faces Republican Rep. Jim Renacci in Ohio’s redrawn 16th Congressional District, a tossup race.
  • AFSCME PEOPLE, the PAC of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, reported spending $541,000 on “Didn’t Take Long,” an ad opposing Renacci in Ohio. AFSCME also spent $360,000 from its union treasury on “Gamble” and $422,000 on “A Lot to Say,” both of which oppose Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., who is running for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Jon Tester.
  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reported spending $1.3 million on ads opposing Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate: Rehberg in Montana, Mandel in Ohio, former Gov. Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin and former wrestling executive Linda McMahon in Connecticut.
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported spending$244,000 opposing Republican House candidates in five districts. The DCCC also released "Only in Washington" opposing the re-election of Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-N.Y. 
  • Conservative nonprofit Crossroads GPS reported spending $5.3 million on ads opposing President Barack Obama. Additionally, its sister super PAC American Crossroads released “Skips,” which accuses Obama of absenteeism in the White House. “Mr. President, it’s time to show up for work,” the ad states. Politics365 has noted that in his first three years in office Obama took less than half the amount of vacation as his predecessor, Republican George W. Bush, who spent 180 days on vacation during his first three years in office.
  • On Friday, pro-Democrat House Majority PAC reported spending $452,000opposing Republican House candidates in four districts. On Saturday, it reported an additional $1.3 million in ads opposing Republicans in 10 districts.
  • Majority PAC, a super PAC supporting Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate, reported $319,000 in ads opposing Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, who faces Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin in the state’s U.S. Senate contest.
  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee reported spending $1 million opposing Democratic Senate candidates Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Jon Tester in Montana, as well as independent Angus King in Maine. The National Republican Congressional Committee reported spending $4.1 million on ads opposing Democrats in numerous House districts.
  • The super PAC Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition reported spending $507,000 opposing Democrat Patrick Murphy, the vice president of an environmental cleanup firm, who is running for U.S. House against tea party favorite Rep. Allen West. This is the group’s only reported expenditure.
  • SEIU COPE, the PAC of the Service Employees International Union, reported spending $858,000 on ads opposing Republicans and supporting Democrats in House, Senate and presidential races.
  • American Action Network, a conservative nonprofit, spent a total $416,000 on ads opposing the House runs of former Rep. Nick Nolan, D-Minn., and Democrat David Gill in Illinois. Nolan faces Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack, and Gill, a physician, faces Republican Rodney Davis, a congressional aide. 

About the author

Rachael Marcus is a reporter with the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit, non-partisan independent investigative news outlet, which contributes campaign finance coverage to Marketplace. For more of their reporting on money and politics go to publicintegrity.org.

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