By Sheena Dooley | Iowa Watchdog
DES MOINES – A nonprofit group run by Iowa native Nick Ryan launched a campaign against Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, who has been nominated to head the Pentagon.
American Future Fund, a Republican group, recently began running its second ad in its “Hagel No” campaign. The most recent ad questions the senator’s record and ethical conflicts, as well his ties to a company with investments in Iran. The “social welfare” group alleges in the ad that Hagel is not equipped for the position.
Hagel was recently nominated by President Barack Obama to become the next U.S. Secretary of Defense. The Nebraska native came under fire, at times by members of his own party, last week during a confirmation hearing before Congress. He received immediate criticism for how he responded to the line of questioning.
In its ad, the American Future Fund said Hagel took campaign money from the banking industry, which he was also charged with regulating. He also sits on the board of Chevron, which receives millions in Pentagon contracts, and has declined to disclose millions of dollars in personal assets.
Ryan founded the nonprofit, which is based in Des Moines, in 2007 to advocate for “conservative and free market ideas.” The group doesn’t have to disclose its donors, although Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Hawkeye Energy Holdings, reportedly gave it seed money in 2008.
During the 2010 mid-term elections, the American Future Fund spent $21 million on largely negative advertisements that distorted the truth, according to Factcheck.org. Roughly 76 percent of the candidates the group backed won, making it one of the most effective outside spending groups during that election cycle, according to the New York Times.
The nonprofit came under fire two years ago when a complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission alleging the group was operating outside of the law by primarily focusing its resources on politics. Groups like the American Future Fund are prohibited from being primarily a political organization under campaign laws. It was not immediately clear if the commission ruled on the complaint.
Sheena Dooley can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at IAWatchdog or find us on Facebook.