'Young Guns' target Democratic House races

A YG Action Fund ad asks how much Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., knew about his in-laws illegal gambling operation.

The YG Action Fund, a super PAC associated with the conservative “Young Guns” movement led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan, reported spending nearly $2 million on ads in three Democrat-held congressional districts.

While the Young Guns is associated with the National Republican Congressional Committee, YG Action Fund is independently managed and independently financially backed, with support coming from super donor Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, who gave it $5 million in April, and by a handful of smaller donors, including Cantor’s leadership PAC, Every Republican Is Crucial (ERICPAC).

The new ads oppose Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., Bill Enyart, the Democrat running in Illinois’ 12th District, and Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass.

McIntrye faces Republican state Sen. David Rouzer in North Carolina’s 7th District, one of the more expensive House races in the country. The district has attracted $1.6 million in outside spending so far, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Two Mikes” says McIntyre “talks like a conservative” but has voted like a liberal.

Enyart, a retired general who until recently headed Illinois’ National Guard, faces Republican businessman Jason Plummer for retiring Democratic Rep. Jerry Costello’s seat in Illinois’ 12th District.

Something New” paints Enyart as out-of-touch and reminds voters he was appointed by disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Tierney is challenged by former state Sen. Richard Tisei, a Republican, for his seat representing Massachusetts’ 6th District. Tierney has been embroiled in scandal since it was discovered his brothers-in-law were running an illegal offshore gambling operation. Though Massachusetts is left-leaning, the seat could be a pickup for Republicans, making Tisei the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress, NPR reported.

The anti-Tierney ad centers around the scandal (his wife is serving jail time) and says it’s “time for John Tierney to man up and tell the truth — the whole truth.”

The Young Guns movement, which got their name on a Weekly Standard magazine cover five years ago, was founded by Cantor, Ryan and Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy of California. After its launch, the NRCC folded it in as part of its fundraising program.

The YG Action Fund was created in October 2011, a Federal Election Commission report shows. Cantor has denied control over the super PAC.

Cantor’s deputy chief of staff, John Murray, founded the super PAC and serves as its treasurer. Murray also founded and runs YG Network, an affiliated, non-disclosing 501(c)(4) nonprofit that can produce and air political ads, and YG Policy Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that generates studies and educational programs.

YG Network, which is not required to reveal its donors, went after longtime Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in April during state’s first contested GOP primary in decades, which resulted in the moderate Lugar being ousted in favor of tea partier Richard Mourdock.

YG Action Fund’s new ads appear to be the super PAC’s first major campaign since it helped former congressional aide Richard Hudson win a tight GOP runoff in North Carolina against Rep. Scott Keadle in July.

In other outside spending news:

  • Conservative Campaign for Working Families takes out of context a noisy vote among delegates at the Democratic National Convention about whether or not to amend the platform to say that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and to add back the word “God.” The ad suggests the acrimony among delegates was attributable to the “God” clause, not the Jerusalem assertion.
  • The NRCC spent almost $4.1 million opposing Democrats and Republicans in 21 congressional districts.
  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee  spent $971,000 supporting Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., in his race for U.S. Senate in the state and opposing former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat. The buy also opposes Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who faces a challenge by Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont.
  • Pro-President Barack Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action launched “We the People,” an ad targeted at middle-class voters opposing Romney. The group reported spending $750,000 on new ad buys.
  • Center Forward, which supports moderate Democrats and Republicans, released “Struggle,” which opposes Georgia state Rep. Lee Anderson, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in Georgia’s 12th District.
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released “Enough” opposing Rodney Davis, the Republican candidate for Congress is Illinois’ 13th District. The DCCC also released “Out for Himself” opposing Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and “Shanghai” opposing Keith Rothfus, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in Pennsylvania’s 12th District. The group also reported spending more than $890,000 and $1.1 million in two separate waves of ads.
  • The Service Employees International Union PEA, the union’s super PAC, spent almost $1.1 million supporting the re-elections of Obama, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio; the Senate bids of former Democratic Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; and the U.S. House bid of Manny Yevancy, a Democrat running in Florida’s 27th District. The group’s July quarterly report showed a $550,000 contribution from the SEIU’s general fund.
  • Crossroads Generation, a conservative super PAC aimed at young voters, debuted “Not Working,” opposing Obama.
  • Club for Growth Action, a conservative super PAC, reported $792,000 in new ads supporting Richard Mourdock, the tea party Republican running against Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly for U.S. Senate in Indiana.
  • The Safari Club International PAC spent $141,000 supporting 17 Republicans and four Democrats. Safari Club International is an international organization of hunters that also funds wildlife conservation programs.

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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