Campaign Finance

Veterans groups jump into U.S. Senate race in Arizona

Rachael Marcus Sep 27, 2012

A new ad from a veterans’ outside spending group and a major Democratic super PAC accuses Arizona Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of failing to support members of the armed services.

“Congressman Flake voted to send us to that war,” says Steven Lopez, an Iraq war veteran, in the new ad, “and then voted against us when we returned home.”

Flake and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, a Democrat, are facing off to replace retiring Republican Sen. John Kyl in an increasingly competitive race.

Uniform” from VoteVets Action Fund, a nonprofit, and Majority PAC draws attention to Flake’s vote against the 2008 GI Bill, which expanded benefits to Iraq war veterans. The bill, now law, provides tuition to public universities for qualified veterans, among other provisions.

The ad launches today and will air for one week at a cost of $280,000, according to a press release.

Flake’s campaign is fighting back. On Tuesday, responding to similar claims made by the Carmona campaign, posted a statement from Republican Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and former POW, calling the line of attack “false and negative.” The statement is accompanied by a list of veterans’ bills the congressman did vote for.

The VoteVets ad notes Flake’s vote for a 2003 budget that cut veterans’ benefits and for a 2010 vote against another veterans’ education bill that, among other things, provides vocational training for veterans. As a nonprofit, the group is not required to disclose its donors.

The anti-veteran attacks began this week with an ad from Carmona, a veteran himself, and a strongly worded statement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Carmona has made veterans’ support a major aspect of his campaign. “Vets for Carmona,” an arm of his campaign, is chaired by an Army lieutenant general and two major generals. The website features a place for veterans to add their names to Carmona’s endorsements list. Carmona also has the endorsement of the Veterans Alliance for Security and Democracy, which tends to support Democratic veterans.

The U.S. Senate race in Arizona has seen $1.8 million in outside spending, but $1.2 million was directed at Wil Cardon, Flake’s wealthy opponent in the Aug. 28 GOP primary, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Flake has a slight lead in the polls, according to Real Clear Politics, but the gap is closing.

VoteVets  Action Fund also spent $270,000 supporting the U.S. House run of Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, a former Hawaii state representative. Gabbard has served two deployments to the Middle East and is a commander in the Hawaii Army National Guard.

In other outside spending news:

  •  “More Government Isn’t the Solution” from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposes former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat running for U.S. Senate in North Dakota.
  • Pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future released “Kindergarten” opposing President Barack Obama.
  • Super PAC Priorities USA Action, which supports Obama, and AFSCME PEOPLE, the political action committee of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, released “47%,” a radio ad criticizing Romney for his secretly videotaped statement at a private fundraising event where he said 47 percent of Americans “believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”
  • SEIU COPE, the political action committee of the Service Employees International Union, reported spending $332,000 opposing Romney, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill.
  • Conservative nonprofit Crossroads GPS reported spending $1.1 million against U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., $130,000 against Obama, and has plans to spend $3.7 million against four Democratic senatorial candidates. The $3.7 million campaign includes “Big” opposing Rep. Shelley Berkley in Nevada; “Pressure” opposing Rep. Joe Donnelly in Indiana; “When” opposing Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio; and “Addicted” opposing former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.
  • Conservative super PAC Ending Spending Action Fund released “Why I Changed My Vote” and “Reason,” which oppose Obama.
  • House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, reported spending $129,000 opposing Randy Altschuler in New York, a Republican running for Congress, plus an additional $437,000 opposing Republican U.S. House candidates Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, Joe Coors, a Colorado businessman, Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia and North Carolina state Sen. David Rouzer.
  • Running” from Americans for Job Security, a conservative nonprofit, opposes Obama.
  • The Florida-focused super PAC Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition released “Add Up,” which opposes Democrat Patrick Murphy, Republican Rep. Allen West’s challenger in Florida’s 18th District. Murphy is the president of an environmental cleanup firm.
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported spending $3.6 million opposing Republican candidates for U.S. House in numerous districts. The DCCC also released an ad opposing former Virginia Sen. George Allen, a Republican running for U.S. Senate.
  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released “Wall Street’s Favorite Senator,” which opposes Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. The ad cost $575,000.

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.



There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.