Chevron-powered super PAC helps Ohio Congressman

The Chevron logo is displayed at a Chevron gas station on July 27, 2012 in Greenbrae, Calif.

After Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, cancelled more than $800,000 in network television advertising last week, the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC stepped in to fill the void.

Renacci, a Republican just finishing his freshman term, faces Rep. Betty Sutton, a three-term Democrat, in Ohio’s newly redrawn 16th District, which has attracted more outside spending than any other House race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — more than $8.8 million.

Chevron Corp., ranked No. 3 on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. companies, made a $2.5 million contribution on Oct. 7 to the Leadership Fund, which is dedicated to electing Republicans to the House and Senate, as The Center for Public Integrity reported last week.

Renacci said the market had reached saturation and people were simply tuning out the ads. The New York Times reported that next to Las Vegas, the Cleveland area has seen more political ads than any other market.

This weekend’s “Hall of Fame,” the Leadership Fund’s newest anti-Sutton ad, is the second in a $1.8 million buy, according to a press release.

The narrator calls the congresswoman “hall of fame tax-and-spender Betty Sutton,” and it details her support for the stimulus, cap-and-trade legislation to control carbon emissions and the Wall Street bank bailout.

The first ad in the October campaign, “Busy Betty,” premiered last week. It comes after the super PAC spent more than $1 million against Sutton in September, when the Leadership Fund first began airing ads in the district.

The group has reported spending $2.4 million on the race to date, Federal Election Commission records show.

House Majority PAC, one of the top Democratic outside spenders active in the race, has also spent about $2.4 million since September, when it first started airing ads in the district, FEC records show.

Last week, House Majority PAC released “Cloud” opposing Renacci. The ad is running for one week in the Cleveland market and cost $730,000, according to a press release.

Cloud” hits Renacci for trying to “avoid paying taxes on nearly $14 million.”  This claim has been made in anti-Renacci ads from Sutton herself, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The statement is true, according to PolitiFact – Renacci and his wife underreported their income in 2000 by $13.6 million, as the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Oct. 19, and the couple is still disputing the penalty.

The Renacci campaign is continuing to run ads on cable channels, though to a lesser extent, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

In other outside spending news:

The Congressional Leadership Fund reported spending $2.6 million over the weekend and also released three other ads:

  • Trick or Treat” opposes Rep. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y.;
  • Imagine” opposes former Wisconsin Sen. Pat Kreitlow, the Democrat running for U.S. House in Wisconsin’s 7th District;
  • Twinkle” and the Spanish version “Estrellita” oppose Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif.

American Action Network, a conservative nonprofit, reported spending $4.4 million and released four news ads:

  • Pumping Iron” and “Levantando pesas” oppose Nevada Assemblyman John Oceguera, the Democratic candidate for U.S. House in the state’s 3rd District.
  • Mad Science” opposes physician David Gill, the Democratic candidate for U.S. House in Illinois’ 13th District.
  • Standing” opposes former Rep. Rick Nolan, the Democratic candidate for U.S. House in Minnesota’s 8th District.

Conservative super PAC Ending Spending Action Fund reported spending $2.6 million and released four new ads:

  • Wrong” opposes former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Arizona.
  • Energy Virginia” opposes President Barack Obama and former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who is running for U.S. Senate.
  • Distorting” opposes Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., and supports his challenger, Nebraska state Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican.
  • Energy Ohio” opposes Obama and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

House Majority PAC reported spending $1.9 million and released three new ads:

  • Game” opposes Connecticut state Sen. Andrew Roraback, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in the state’s 5th District.
  • Our Time” opposes Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa.
  • Today” supports former Florida state Sen. Al Laswon, the Democratic candidate for U.S. House in Florida’s 2nd District.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported spending $3 million and released two new ads: “What’s Tim Kaine’s Plan for Virginia?” opposing the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in the state, and “A Serious Threat to Jobs” opposing Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who is running for U.S. Senate.

Conservative nonprofit American Future Fund released “Hands” and “Real Solutions” supporting Mitt Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. It reported spending $2.7 million over the weekend.

The National Republican Congressional Committee reported spending $6.6 million on ads opposing Democrats and supporting Republicans.

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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