Press Conference New Britain 10.15.10
"I don't' believe I ever recall seeing you quite so wound up?"-Comment from WTNH Mark Davis to Congressman Chris Murphy at Friday's presser.
Last Friday, Congressman Chris Murphy held a press conference to respond to the latest attack ad from the newly formed conservative group called "The American Action Network"
For those now familiar with this ultra-right wing shadow group…read slowly:
American Action Network (AAN) is a "501(c)4" Washington, D.C.-based "action tank" created in February 2010 after the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision permitted corporations to spend unlimited money influencing elections. AAN is expected to spend $25 million during the 2010 midterm elections on advertisements attacking Democratic candidates, but as a 501(c)(4), the American Action Network does not have to disclose its donors. The organization was formed by center right political operatives and supported by former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former senior policy adviser to Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign.
Organizers have described the group as a center-right version of the Center for American Progress, but rather than working on policy analysis, it has just been running ads attacking Democrats.
American Action Network is linked to Karl Rove's American Crossroads PAC; in fact, they share office space.
In its efforts to "create, encourage and promote center-right policies based on the principles of freedom, limited government, American exceptionalism, and strong national security," AAN is expected to spend $25 million dollars influencing the 2010 Congressional mid-term elections, particularly on opposing Democrats in Senate races in Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Washington, and Florida.
However, as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, AAN is not required to disclose its donors, and can legally operate under a veil of secrecy.
Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's January 2010 Citizens United decision, groups like American Action Network can legally advocate for or against political candidates without restrictions on the amount of money they can raise from individuals and corporations. And thanks to the Court's 2007 FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life decision, "independent" groups organized under 501(c) of the tax code can run "issue-oriented" political ads without disclosing their the individuals and corporations who fund their efforts.
Despite the donors' anonymity, the AAN's board membership may provide some insight into the group's motivations, and provide voters some insight into who is trying to influence them (see the "Leadership" section, below).
Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan campaign-finance-reform group, tells TIME Magazine that "shadow Republican groups formed by longtime party officials and party operatives are raising and spending hundreds of millions of dollars in this election...most of which is going to come in the form of secret undisclosed contributions."
Obviously, transparency is not a part of this group's business model.
Karl Rove's AAN plans to spend 800,000 in the state with an ridiculous attack ad on Murphy complete with accusations of the congressman voting in favor of health care for undocumented immigrants and Viagra for sex offenders.
Needless to say that congressman wasn't too pleased and in a rare show of emotion, Murphy expressed his anger this afternoon...
…and to the surprise of the media, the congressman kicked his anger up a notch during the Q&A.
You can read Congressman Murphy'statement regarding AAN's attack ad below...
New Britain, CT – Today, Congressman Chris Murphy (CT-5) and more than 100 supporters from the Fifth District gathered in New Britain to denounce a television attack ad funded by the American Action Network, a group funded and run by Wall Street millionaires and linked to national Republican heavy hitters. The organization is spending $800,000 on these attacks, and their agenda puts Wall Street ahead of Connecticut: more tax breaks for the wealthy, more unfair trade deals, and no accountability for Wall Street’s riskiest practices.
“This special interest group, which won’t disclose who is funding their assault on me, is trying to steal this election. They want to steal it so they can try to outsource your job, turn back the clock on consumer protection reforms, and send us back to the George Bush economic policies that got us into this mess. People here don’t buy these types of smear campaigns, and we are fighting back,” said Murphy.
Murphy was joined by supporters, including Kathy Platt of Alderman Motors in Meriden, whom Murphy helped stay in business and keep people employed, and Jan Smolinski, a Cheshire resident whose son went missing in Waterbury years ago. Murphy and Smolinski have worked on federal legislation to update missing persons laws so that families across the nation won’t have to go through what the Smolinski family has gone through in their search for their loved one.
Murphy was also joined by Marian Melcher Hanson, a Burlington resident and registered Republican who supports him because of his responsiveness in helping her business grow.
“Sam Caligiuri should pick up the phone and call the board members of the American Action Network himself to get this ad off the Connecticut airwaves. People in Connecticut support me because I stand up for them. If Sam Caligiuri remains silent, we will know once and for all that he stands with DC special interests and their smear tactics,” said Murphy.