HELENA – A national Republican committee has bought more than $580,000 worth of television and radio advertising as part an independent expenditure effort in support of Tim Fox for attorney general.
The Republican State Leadership Committee Inc., based in Washington, D.C., purchased the ads, according to advertising purchase information obtained by the campaign of Pam Bucy, Fox’s Democratic opponent. About $534,000 is for television ads, while the rest is for radio.
Buying independent expenditure advertising in support of a candidate is legal, but coordination between these groups and the candidates is prohibited.
The committee’s total ad buy is more than what both Fox and Bucy have raised in their campaigns combined to date. Bucy has raised about $270,000 to Fox’s $232,000 so far.
“Frankly, I just think this is incredibly disrespectful,” Bucy said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s definitely out-of-state corporations trying to buy this election.”
The GOP group, which spent $30 million in 2010 in support of down-ballot state Republican candidates nationally, expects to top that level in 2012, spokesman Adam Temple said. So far, in the 2012 cycle, it has raised $21.4 million nationally and spent $15.8 million.
The top five national donors to the Republican State Leadership Committee in the 2012 cycle are Blue Cross/Blue Shield, $2.4 million; Reynolds American (a tobacco company), $705,000; Devon Energy, $600,000; Altria Group (the parent company of Philip Morris and other tobacco companies), $489,399; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, $475,399, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington nonpartisan, nonprofit group.
The same Republican committee spent more than $100,000 in support of Fox’s primary election race against state Sen. Jim Shockley, R-Victor. Reports filed with the state political practices commissioner showed that the money spent in Montana by the committee during the primary came from Altria; Walgreens; Yahoo! Inc.; PhARMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America); Endo Pharmaceuticals; and Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, a Washington lobbying firm.
The TV ad says that Fox will fight “Obamacare,” the 2010 Affordable Care Act, to prevent it from killing Montana jobs. Fox will fight for Montana jobs, it says, and will support gun rights and fix Montana’s broken sexual offender registry.
Bucy said the Republican ad says nothing about the attorney general’s office, but a lot about what the political process has become.
Temple declined to discuss the content of the independent expenditure ad supporting Fox.
“The ad, like the ads run across the country in numerous races, speaks for itself,” Temple said. “We think that our candidate is a solid candidate and look forward to him serving as the next attorney general.”
Bucy said she’s been working hard to raise money for her campaign.
“Every dime of money I’ve raised is because I’ve looked ’em in the eye or told them over the phone why I wanted the job,” she said.
Bucy said she believes the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries are donating to the Republican group to help Fox in the attorney general’s race for one reason: “They don’t want to see attorneys general be active in the consumer protection area.”
In response, Fox campaign spokesman Tyler Matthews called it another attempt by Bucy to distract Montana voters from the real issues.
“Montana voters have a clear choice between Tim Fox, who wants to stop Obamacare from ruining our economy and busting our state budget and help get Montanans back to work by responsibly developing our natural resources, and Pam Bucy who wants to punish job creators and promote an extreme agenda on behalf of her environmentalist allies,” he said.
Missoulian State Bureau reporter Charles S. Johnson can be reached at (406) 447-4066 or at email@example.com.