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GOP nonprofits press attack

This Americans for Prosperity ad opposing Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a U.S. Senate candidate from Wisconsin, is part of a $2.7 million ad buy announced Wednesday.

The conservative nonprofit Americans for Prosperity on Wednesday announced a $2.7 million ad buy that will target Democrats in five key Senate races across the country.

The targets are Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.

The first of the ads targets Baldwin and began airing in Wisconsin last week, according to a press release from Americans for Prosperity.

Tammy Baldwin: Stop Wasteful Spending,” features a handful of Wisconsinites who believe that “Washington can sure learn a lot from Wisconsin, especially how to tighten their belts and balance the budget.”

The Americans for Prosperity ad also points out Baldwin’s vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act, which it claims will cost $2 trillion — “double what was promised.”

In March, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the net cost of the Act would be $1.1 trillion over nine years.

Two other ads that are part of the buy were released online yesterday. “Smarter Spending Not Higher Taxes” targets Kaine, while “Nevada Taxpayers First” targets Berkley.

The remainder of the ads will air over a two-week period. It is not clear when that period began.

The ads are separate from the $25 million ad campaign targeting President Barack Obama that Americans for Prosperity announced in early August.

Americans for Prosperity is not required to disclose its donors thanks to its nonprofit status, but is connected to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. Koch-backed organizations plan to spend an estimated $400 million on the 2012 elections, Politico reported in May.

Americans for Prosperity alone spent at least $1.3 million on political advertising during the 2009-2010 election cycle and has already spent at least $14.7 million this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The organization bills itself as a “grassroots” advocate for free markets and limited government. It has also been called an “incubator” for the tea party movement.

Senate races have also drawn spending form Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit sister organization of super PAC American Crossroads as well as other conservative groups.

The organization announced a $4.2 million ad campaign targeting key Senate races in Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida. Florida — where Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson faces Club for Growth-endorsed Republican Rep. Connie Mack — is a new target for Crossroads this year. The campaign also represents the first reported negative spending from the Crossroads camp in the New Mexico Senate race, where former Republican Rep. Heather Wilson faces current Rep. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat.

The conservative nonprofit American Future Fund announced yesterday that it spent $600,000 on two ads opposing Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and former North Dakota attorney general Heidi Heitkamp. Both are running for Senate in their home states. The North Dakota ad, “Choice,” attacks Heitkamp for her support of Obama and the Affordable Care Act. The anti-Berkley ad, “Battle Born,” targets Berkley for corruption allegations she has faced in recent months.

In other spending news:

  • The nonprofit Republican Governors Association began airing an ad targeting Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock on Wednesday. “The Real Steve Bullock” claims the attorney general has been endorsed by “extreme environmentalists” — the Montana Conservation Voters, which calls itself “the political voice of Montana's conservation and environmental community.” The ad also derisively cites his C+ rating from the National Rifle Association. “Those aren’t Montana values,” the ad says.

About the author

Alexandra Duszak is a reporter for the Center's Consider the Source project. Previously, she was the Center's 15th James R. Soles Fellow.

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