Millions spent on Senate ads

"Sense," an ad from the politcally active nonprofit Crossroads GPS, claims Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana was the “deciding vote” on the health care reform law.

The pro-Republican nonprofit Crossroads GPS on Wednesday announced a $3.4 million ad campaign attacking Democrats in four key Senate races.

Among them is "Sense," which claims Sen. Jon Tester of Montana was the “deciding vote” on the health care reform law. That’s not a new Republican line of attack, according to a March 2011 story in Politico, and has been used against other Democratic senators.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee claimed Tester was the 60th vote, the story points out. Tester’s office emailed a video of the Senate roll call vote, “which clearly shows Tester casting the 52nd vote,” according to the story.

  • "Hiding Taxes” targets Heidi Heitkamp, former attorney general of North Dakota, and claims she supports “higher taxes on small businesses” but doesn’t say how.
  • People Over Government” targets vulnerable Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill with a similar claim. McCaskill will take on Republican Rep. Todd Akin, an arch-conservative, in November.
  • Holes” attacks Tim Kaine of Virginia on taxes and spending.

Pattern,” another Crossroads ad that is not part of the four-state campaign, attacks Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. The ad, which cites a story in the Las Vegas Sun, claims she once urged her boss to “buy off judges with campaign cash."

Berkley’s boss was none other than Republican super donor Sheldon Adelson. She “advised Adelson to give favors to judges and county commissioners in return for favorable treatment” while she was an attorney working for his casino empire, according to the article. The tape containing that information emerged during Berkley’s first run for Congress, shortly after she had a falling out with the billionaire.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal in a story Wednesday said Berkley was advising Adelson on the way business was conducted in Las Vegas.

"I gave him the best advice I could under the circumstances," Berkley told reporter Jane Ann Morrison of the newspaper. "I do not agree with or condone the advice."

Crossroads is a nonprofit organization and is not required to reveal its donors. It was co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove.

In other outside spending news:

  • Friends of the Majority, a conservative super PAC, spent $373,000 on ads between July 31 and Aug. 7 opposing Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., who is running for re-election. The ad calls the Republican “not Mr. Right for conservatives.”
  • Nonprofit Patriot Majority USA spent more than $468,000 on the production of two ads opposing Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Andrew Roraback, a Republican state senator from Connecticut, who is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Pro-President Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action spent about $490,000 on digital and radio advertising and production opposing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
  • The New Prosperity Foundation, a Chicago-based super PAC spent $301,000 opposing Tammy Duckworth, Brad Schneider, David Gill, Bill Foster and Cheri Bustos — all Democrats running for the U.S. House in districts across Illinois.
  • SEIU COPE, the super PAC of the Service Employees International Union, spent more than $275,000 on literature and TV ads and production targeting Obama and Berkley (pro) and Romney (against).

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.

"Sense," an ad from the politcally active nonprofit Crossroads GPS, claims Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana was the “deciding vote” on the health care reform law.

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