0

Super PACs aim to spook voters with Halloween ads

This Halloween-themed ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund opposes Rep. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y.

Outside spenders are getting in the holiday spirit with Halloween-themed ads designed to scare voters away from the targeted candidates.

A foggy cemetery, a haunted house and shadowy figures loom in House Majority PAC’s ad, as the narrator speaks in a quivering voice pretending to be a ghost, explaining why voters should be afraid of Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, the Republican candidate running in Texas’ 23rd District.

The narrator suddenly cuts the ghost voice and says, “This isn’t a Halloween story, though it is scary. It’s Quico Canseco’s — a person and a story that fits right into Washington.”

One of the ads main claims — that Canseco owes hundreds of thousands in liens over unpaid payroll taxes and contracting fees — was reported by the San Antonio Express-News in July 2010.

Canseco disputes the claim. He said the bulk of what is owed is a result of disagreements between contractors and tenants on properties he owns and that he was only named because he is the landlord.

Canseco faces Democratic challenger Pete Gallego, a Texas state representative. House Majority PAC’s Halloween ad is part of a $415,000 buy in Texas’ 23rd District, a Republican-leaning swing district.

The race has seen $6.6 million in outside spending, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Conservative spenders are also using the holiday to their advantage.

“Kathy Hochul promised us lots of treats…But Hochul tricked us!” says the childlike narrator of the Congressional Leadership Fund’s new ad opposing the Democratic congresswoman in New York’s 27th District.

The animated “Trick or Treat,” which shows children in costumes, ghosts gliding by and bats flapping across the screen, says “Hochul treated herself – personally profiting from companies that outsource and do business with China.”

The claim is supposedly based on Hochul’s personal investments in companies that manufacture products in China; however, an accusation first made by the conservative news outlet, Washington Free Beacon.

Hochul has also criticized her Republican challenger, businessman Chris Collins, for benefitting from outsourcing, though the Buffalo News has called those claims misleading.

The trick-or-treat ad, airing in Buffalo and Rochester, cost $900,000, according to apress release. New York’s 27th District has seen more than $5 million in outside spending, according to CRP.

First-term incumbent Hochul is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats, according to The New York Times.

In other outside spending news:

Conservative super PAC American Crossroads reported spending $14.1 million on ads opposing President Barack Obama and Democrats in U.S. Senate and House races. It also released two new ads: “Silent” opposes Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. “No Slate” opposes Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who is running for U.S. Senate.

Its sister nonprofit Crossroads GPS reported spending $5.1 million and released a handful of new ads opposing Democrats:

  • Blew It” opposes former Maine Gov. Angus King, the independent candidate for U.S. Senate in the state;
  • Dictionary” opposes Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who is running for U.S. Senate in the state;
  • Roadblock” opposes former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in the state;
  • Down” opposes Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio;
  • MeadWestvaco” and “Both” oppose former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in the state;
  • Mesa de cocina” opposes Obama.

House Majority PAC also released:

  • Insider” opposing Rodney Davis, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in Illinois’ 13th District;
  • Representing You” opposing Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif.;
  • Extreme” opposing Jackie Walorski, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in Indiana’s 2nd District
  • Dine” opposing Georgia state Rep. Lee Anderson, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in Georgia’s 12th District;
  • Who We Are” opposing Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn.
  • About Women” opposing Vernon Parker, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in Arizona’s 9th District;
  • Why” opposing Jonathan Paton, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in Arizona’s 1st District;
  • Play by the Rules” opposing Quico Canseco (co-released with LCV Victory Fund, affiliated with the League of Conservation Voters);
  • Dream” supports Pete Gallego, Canseco’s Democratic challenger in Texas’ 23rd District.

Congressional Leadership Fund also released ads opposing Democratic candidates for U.S. House in four races:

  • Join Me’” opposes Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga.;
  • Duck Hunt” opposes Gallego in Texas’ 23rd District;
  • Swept” opposes Rep. Gary McDowell, D-Mich;
  • Leech” opposes former Arizona state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic candidate in Arizona’s 9th District.

Conservative nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform released four new ads opposing Democrats:

  • Control” opposes former Rep. Charlie Wilson, running in Ohio’s 6th District;
  • Wrong Prescription for New York” and “Shocking” oppose Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y.;
  • Napkin” opposes Colorado state Rep. Sal Pace, the Democratic candidate for U.S. House in Colorado’s 3rd District.

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.
Log in to post0 Comments
With Generous Support From...