by Max Brantley
Bill Halter, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, has filed a Federal Election Commission complaint over the attack ads by the Americans for Job Security. The group has reportedly committed more than $1 million to attack ads in the final days -- enough to put its images before every Arkansas voter dozens of times. They make the baseless charge -- highlighted in one episode by heavily accented Indians -- that Bill Halter had a connection with a company that outsourced American jobs to India.
As a practical matter, Halter's complaint seems unlikely to produce action, even if his complaint is legally well founded, before election day 10 days from now. But it will call attention to the scurrilous nature of the ads and their secretive financier. Again: It is time for legislation to require transparency in attack ads. Republicans don't like it. The NRA doesn't like. Corporately owned Democrats sometimes don't like it.
It's a perversion of the process to allow a secret moneybags to buy an Arkansas election.
The Halter release:
North Little Rock - The Bill Halter for U.S. Senate campaign today filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission asking that an out-of-state group that has inserted itself into the Senate race in Arkansas with a $1.2 million purchase of TV attack ads lying about Lieutenant Governor Halter be required to identify its donors.
In an April 24 debate in Little Rock, while responding to a question about third-party players in the Senate race, Sen. Lincoln said, "I'd be loving to make sure (sic) that people would tell who they are instead of making cagy names, or putting them at the bottom of their ads, or their postcards, or anything else."
"Americans for Job Security is trying to buy a Senate seat in Arkansas," Halter campaign manager Carol Butler said today. "They have produced tawdry ads that flat-out lie about Lieutenant Governor Halter. This group has a history of running lying political ads, of never disclosing their donors, and of FEC complaints and lawsuits. The only difference with what's happening in Arkansas is that AJS has never before been involved in a Democratic Primary.
"Arkansas voters deserve to know who these people are, where they get their money and why they are so interested in a Democratic primary," Butler added. "Sen. Lincoln said she wants transparency, so we're calling her to keep that promise to Arkansas voters."
Virginia-based Americans for Job Security (AJS) claims its non-profit status shields it from disclosing its contributors. The Halter campaign argues that nonprofit 501(c)(6) status should not apply for organizations, such as AJS, that seek to influence elections. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has described Americans for Job Security as "pro-Republican." OpenSecrets.org defines ASJ as "pro-Republican, pro-business." In a 2004 article titled "Meet The Attack Dogs," the Texas Observer said of AJS: "It's impossible to know if that's the truth since the group refuses to release a membership list or divulge how much special interest money is funneled through the organization. It does admit that it uses corporate money. It's unclear if one person or many finance any given AJS campaign." News articles and commentary indicate that Americans for Job Security has a history of entering campaigns late with millions of dollars to spend on behalf of Republican candidates.
AJS ads that began airing on Arkansas television stations falsely claimed that a technology company on whose board Halter had served exported jobs to India. The charges are false. The company opened a 58-person development center in India. No American jobs were moved or lost.