A super PAC bankrolled by Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts has unleashed a statewide TV ad campaign bashing Jon Bruning and promoting Deb Fischer in the last days before Nebraska voters go to the polls to pick a Republican to face Bob Kerrey in the increasingly hot U.S. Senate race.
And now the Bruning campaign says it will file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging the super PAC coordinated on the ads with the Fischer campaign — which would be a violation of federal election laws.
One ad portrays Bruning being showered in money and urges people to vote for “anyone but Jon.”
“The world expects Jon Bruning is our Republican candidate for the Senate,” the ad says, but says as attorney general, he’s “made millions” and bought a $600,000 vacation home with the owner of a company (Nelnet) he officially oversees. The ad says while serving as Nebraska’s top lawyer, Bruning “somehow obtained significant ownership in state-regulated companies.”
“For character, anyone but Bruning,” concludes the ad, which was paid for by the Ending Spending Action Fund, a super PAC funded by Ricketts.
The same group is also running another new ad promoting Sen. Deb Fischer as “one of us” as opposed to two “lifetime politicians” — Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg. The ad calls her “One remarkably conservative Nebraska rancher with the guts to say ‘This has to stop,’ ” and prominently notes that she was endorsed by Sarah Palin.
“This Tuesday, surprise the world, choose one of us, Deb Fischer for the United States Senate,” the ad says.
Ending Spending is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group – originally formed in 2010 and called Taxpayers Against Earmarks – that educates taxpayers about wasteful and excessive government spending. The group’s website says the inspiration and strategic vision for the group came from Ricketts.
Brian Baker, president of Ending Spending, said the group is spending about $200,000 to air the ads statewide through election day, Tuesday. He said the group decided to support Fischer due to her positions on fiscal responsibility, balancing the budget, repealing Obama’s health care law and “other issues of concern to working families.” He noted that this is her first run for statewide office, compared to Bruning and Stenberg, who have run for statewide office a combined 16 times.
He noted the “really exciting” and “growing surge” in Fischer’s favor – from encouraging polling results to recent endorsements – and said she is best poised to win the general election in November.
The pro-Fischer ad uses some same footage that have aired in Fischer’s ads, but Fischer’s spokesman, Aaron Trost, said the campaign did not share its footage with the super PAC. Trost said anyone could take their footage from YouTube because it’s not copyrighted. Super PACs are allowed to raise unlimited amounts of money to promote or oppose candidates, but they cannot directly coordinate with campaigns.
However, the Bruning campaign says it’s clear the pro-Fischer ad used the same footage in Fischer’s campaign commercials.
“Until Deb Fischer tells Ending Spending to take down their ads that illegally use her campaign footage, she is violating the law,” said Trent Fellers, Bruning’s campaign manager. “This is a last-minute effort to distort the facts.”
Rebroadcasting Fischer campaign footage could constitute an in-kind contribution, which is limited to $2,500 for the primary election.
However, Baker said his group did not coordinate with the Fischer campaign on the ad.
“Our ads were created independently by respected third-party media vendors with no ties to the campaign,” he said.
The group reported less than $2,000 in cash on hand in its most recent report to the Federal Election Commission, but apparently that has changed.
Reported by Deena Winter, email@example.com.
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Here is the Bruning-bashing ad:
And the Fischer-promoting ad: