Campaign Finance

The "spring break" president?

Rachael Marcus Oct 17, 2012

“It’s time to put the adults back in charge,” says the narrator of a new attack ad from a conservative political action committee. “Sometimes Barack Obama seems to confuse being president with being on spring break,” he continues. “It’s time to retire the beer-summit, spring-break presidency.”

The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama released this new advertisement just after the end second presidential debate Tuesday night, which saw Obama continue his campaign’s theme of painting GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney as out-of-touch and elitist. The ad takes the out-of-touch theme and turns it against Obama. The PAC’s ad notes that Obama has played more than 100 rounds of golf during his tenure. It also features clips of his “slow jamming the news” on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and other talk show appearances. This is contrasted with criticisms of rising gas prices, unemployment and foreclosures.

The ad also attempts to flip what is considered one of Obama’s biggest victories — the killing of Osama bin Laden — by saying he was on the golf course when the operation got underway, which stretches the truth. Obama was on the golf course until 20 minutes before the operation to take down bin Laden began, according to a book “SEAL Target Geronimo,” published by a former Navy SEAL commander. During the operation, Obama was gathered with his national security team in the Situation Room, a scene depicted in a famous photo released by the White House.

While the ad attempts to portray Obama as shirking his presidential duties, it is worth noting that as of July, the president had taken 81 vacation days compared to former President George W. Bush’s 243 vacation days at the same point in his presidency, according to CBS White House reporter Mark Knoller.

The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama has spent more than $1.3 million on advertisments known as independent expenditures this election, with nearly all of that money being spent on the presidential contest, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. According to its most recent campaign finance filing with the Federal Election Commission, it has raised about $2.4 million this election cycle, including nearly $287,000 in August. Like other PACs, it is subject to contribution limits that allow individuals to give up to $5,000 per year.

The PAC is run by a handful of conservative activists, including Lloyd Marcus, a conservative columnist and singer-songwriter who wrote a tea party anthem, according to the group’s website. Joe Wierzbicki, another tea party activist, is the executive director. The Center for Media and Democracy has criticized the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama for using its money to pay Wierzbicki’s consulting firm. An analysis of FEC records by the Center for Public Integrity shows that 38 percent of the money spent by the PAC on independent expenditures this cycle has gone to Russo Marsh & Associates, Wierzbicki’s firm. Another 8 percent went to Wierzbicki himself and Ryan Gill, the vice president of the PAC, the vice president of the PAC, mainly for online advertisements. PAC treasurer Kelly Lawler did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Wierzbicki and Marcus are also on the board of the PAC of the Tea Party Express, which is known as Our Country Deserves Better. Gill was  previously involved with that PAC, which has spent $443,000 on ads this election.

The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama was established in April 2011 and is based in California. It was heavily involved in the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election. The Center for Media and Democracy filed a complaint with the Wisconsin election board against the PAC for not registering as a political committee in the state and reporting its spending, as required by Wisconsin law.

In other outside spending news: House Majority PAC, a super PAC supporting Democrats running for U.S. House, released four new ads:

  • Alzheimers” opposes Republican Rep. Allen West in Florida’s 18th District;
  • What Happened?” opposes Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack in Minnesota’s 8th District;
  • Venn” opposes Republican Rep. Bob Dold in Illinois’ 10th District;
  • Betrayal” opposes Jackie Walorski, the Republican candidate in Indiana’s 2nd District.

Crossroads GPS, a conservative nonprofit, released ads in five U.S. Senate races:

  • Promotion” opposes Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and cost $1.1 million;
  • Hole” opposes Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and cost $741,000;
  • Fit for a King” opposes former Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent, and cost$323,000;
  • Rubber Stamp Bailout” opposes former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat;
  • Lovers” opposes former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia.

SEIU COPE, the political action committee of the Service Employees International Union, released three ads opposing Republicans:

  • Taken” opposes Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., who is running for U.S. Senate against Tester;
  • Won’t Be Fighting for Wisconsin Families” opposes former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Republican who is running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin against Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin;
  • Procedure” opposes Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., who is running for U.S. House in California’s 52nd District against economist Scott Peters, a Democrat.
  • Planned Parenthood Votes, a super PAC, released three new ads: the firstopposes GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney; the second opposes Thompson’s Senate run in Wisconsin; and the third supports Baldwin, his Democratic opponent.
  • Women Vote!, the super PAC of abortions-rights group EMILY’s List, also opposes Thompson with “Gone Bad.” Another new ad, “Wrong Priorities,” oppose Rep. Bobby Schilling, the Republican candidate for U.S. House in Illinois’ 17th District.  
  • Sack It” from the conservative super PAC American Crossroads, opposes Obama.  
  • Obama was also hit by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, the advocacy arm of the National Rifle Association, in “Fought for It,” and by the conservative nonprofit American Future Fund in “Who’s in Charge?

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