Nonprofit spends $8.2 million against Obama

Americans for Job Security enters the presidential election with an $8.2 million ad buy for "Running."

Americans for Job Security, a conservative nonprofit organized as a trade association, reported that an ad criticizing President Barack Obama, titled “Running,” cost $8.2 million, a significant figure considering the group’s total take in its 2010 fiscal year was $12 million, according to its most recent tax filing.

“Running,” released Wednesday, is the group’s first reported presidential ad of the election. It shows a mother jogging down the street as she says in the voiceover that she’s “running to forget” the bad economy, her husband’s layoffs and the national debt.

“The future is getting worse under Obama,” she says.

The ad is airing in six swing states.

Americans for Job Security is run by president Stephen Demaura, the former director of the New Hampshire State Republican Committee, out of an Alexandria, Va., office shared with the Republican media buying firm Crossroads Media, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Crossroads Media was co-founded by former Americans for Job Security president Michael Dubke. Dubke is also a partner at Black Rock Consultancy, a GOP consultancy he co-founded with Carl Forti, the political director of super PAC American Crossroads and nonprofit Crossroads GPS.

Forti was Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s political director in 2008 and is co-founder of the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future.

Crossroads Media and McCarthy Hennings Media, the firm known for the infamous “Willie Horton” ad that contributed to the demise of Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis’s campaign in 1988, are behind Americans for Job Security’s new ad. Crossroads Media and McCarthy Hennings are also the primary team behind ads from Restore Our Future as well as American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.

Because it is a nonprofit, Americans for Job Security is not required to publicly disclose its donors. This has led to complaints with the IRS and the Federal Election Commission.

Watchdog Public Citizen argued in 2008 that the group should lose its nonprofit status because it violated IRS rules by dedicating a substantial amount of time and money to election activities. Staff lawyers for the FEC later found “reason to believe” the group violated FEC rules by failing to register as a political committee and disclose its donors. Republican commissioners blocked any further action, according FactCheck.org.

Americans for Job Security was launched in 1997 with seed money from the American Insurance Association and the American Forest and Paper Association, according to NPR.

Several donors have been revealed, including Americans for Limited Government, the Wellspring Committee and the Center to Protect Patients’ Rights, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. All three are nonprofits that don’t disclose donors. The Center to Protect Patients’ rights has funneled millions to conservative nonprofits.

Americans for Job Security describes itself as an “independent, bipartisan, pro-business issue advocacy organization,” but it spends almost entirely on ads opposing Democrats.

In other outside spending news:

  • Liberal hedge fund manager George Soros* announced he will give $1.5 million in contributions to pro-Democratic super PACs, including $1 million to the pro-Obama group Priorities USA Action, The New York Times reported Thursday. The remaining $500,000 will be split between Majority PAC and House Majority PAC, according to news reports, which are dedicated to electing Democrats to Congress. Note: The Center for Public Integrity has received financial support from Soros’s Open Society Foundation. See the Center’s list of donors here.
  • Profanity alert: “Wake the F*** Up,” a new Web short, stars actor Samuel L. Jackson speaking in verse and teaming up with a young girl to rally her family behind Obama. The piece was produced by the super PAC Jewish Council for Research and Education, the same people who brought you “The Great Schlep,” starring comedian Sarah Silverman in 2008.
  • American Unity PAC, a Republican super PAC that supports equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, reported spending $518,000 against former Democratic Rep. Bill Foster in Illinois’ 11th District. Foster’s Republican opponent, Rep. Judy Biggert, has a history of supporting LGBT rights. American Unity PAC’s primary backer is hedge fund manager Paul Singer of Elliott Management, a fiscal conservative whose son is gay. The expenditure paid for the ad “Red Flag,” among other things.
  • Quantum of Easing,” a James Bond-styled web video from American Crossroads, opposes Obama. “Stamp” from its sister nonprofit Crossroads GPS opposes Rep. Tammy Baldwin, R-Wis., the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. The GPS ad buy cost $1.2 million.
  • The National Association of Realtors Congressional Fund, a super PAC, reported spending $423,000 in support of Reps. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., Michael Fitzpatrick, D-Pa., and Rep. Gary Miller, D-Calif. All three are on the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees housing issues.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported spending $2 million opposing the re-election of Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and $390,000 opposing former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat running for U.S. Senate in the state.
  • House Majority PAC reported spending $2.1 million opposing Republican candidates for U.S. House in 13 districts.
  • AFSCME PEOPLE, the political action committee of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, released “Flight,” a television ad opposing Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, and “Carolyn,” a radio ad opposing Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich. AFSCME the union reported spending $584,000 on its new radio ad “Donor” opposing Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn.
  • The nonprofit League of Conservation Voters spent $600,000 on the Western-themed “Congressman Canseco: What’s Wrong with Washington,” which attacks Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, R-Texas.
  • SEIU COPE, the PAC of the Service Employees International Union, released “Wrong for Missouri,” attacking Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in the state. Akin was also hit with a $494,000 TV ad buy from Women Vote!, the political action committee of the abortions rights group EMILY’s List.
  • Ending Spending Action Fund, a conservative super PAC, reported spending $1 million on ads opposing Obama and supporting Romney. The group is backed by billionaire J. Joe Ricketts.
  • American Future Fund, a conservative nonprofit, reported that it spent $694,000 on social media promotion for its ad “Promises,” released Tuesday.

Who paid for that political ad? You might be surprised by the answer. Email us and we will try to find out. Describe the advertisement — was it mean or nice? Will it affect your vote? When and where did it run and what were the names of the candidates? And PLEASE tell us what the disclaimer at the end says, and we will check it out.

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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