The political advertisements from have become a regular feature on televisions across Texas Congressional District 17, as both Democrat Congressman Chet Edwards and Republican Bill Flores flood the airwaves with advertising. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, over $1.8 million has been spent already by both campaigns, and while Flores has already spent $1.2 million Edwards has over $2.1 million cash on hand that he will likely spend in the an advertising blitz during the last month of the campaign. However, there is not just money being spent by the two campaigns trying to influence the election in District 17. A conservative advocacy group, American Future Fund, is also spending money in the district. The AFF has released two advertisements attacking Edwards:
So who is the American Future Fund and why are they trying to influence the election in District 17? According to their web site the AFF is a non-profit 501(c)(4) formed to promote a “conservative and free market viewpoint.” The AFF is not located in District 17; in fact the AFF is not even located in Texas. The AFF is located in Des Moines, Iowa. The AFF is an outside influence on the District 17 election, and this district is not the only one that the AFF is attempting to influence. AFF commercials are also attacking Congressmen Baron Hill (D-IN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Denny Heck (D-WA), and Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD), for supposedly deceiving voters on their voting records. The commercials are a cut and paste job which basically read like this:
Washington liberals like [candidate name] are trying to trick you. They'll spend a fortune to hide their liberal records. But [candidate surname] voted for Nancy Pelosi's agenda more than [x] percent of the time. For [his/her] trillion-dollar health plan that cuts $500 billion from Medicare. For raising the national debt. And for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. Don't be tricked. Magic can't change [his/her] liberal record. But this November, your vote can make [candidate name] disappear. American Future Fund is responsible for the content of this advertising.
I’ll will address the substance of the advertisement in a moment, but first let’s take a look at who’s behind the American Future Fund. The Minnesota Independent reports that the people behind the AFF are two media consultants who played key roles in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads in 2004 and the Willie Horton ad in 1988. The AFF’s political advertisements have not been limited to criticizing Democratic incumbents on their voting records. According to an article in the Iowa Independent, an AFF advertisement targeted Iowa Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley for his support of Muslims “building a mosque at Ground Zero, where Islamic terrorists killed 3,000 Americans.” The add goes on to claim that building an Islamic community center two blocks away from the September 11th terrorist attacks, where by the way several Muslims also died, would be like the Japanese building at Pearl Harbor. While the analogy if offensive and actually not equivalent, I wonder if the AFF realizes that there are several Japanese owned businesses within walking distance of Pearl Harbor Naval Base. It doesn’t matter because the AFF does not let facts get in the way.
The AFF attack advertisements on Democratic Congress members voting records claim that the health care reform plan “cuts $500 billion from Medicare.” Research by Media Matters shows that according to four different sources the Affordable Care Act does not cut $500 billion from Medicare, but strengthens the program. The AFF also attacks Democrats for voting “for raising the national debt,” and cites HR 4314 which was a bill to permit continued financing of government operations which essentially raised the debt ceiling. However, Congress has little choice but to raise the debt ceiling or it could lead the nation to default, and the business community supports the raising of the debt ceiling as critical to the economy.
The AFF is using its status as a nonprofit to hide its donors and attempt to buy influence throughout the country. According to the Washington Post, the AFF has spent over $6.7 million across the country. In Texas Congressional District 17 $251,301 of outside influence has been spent in order to manipulate the voters of the district.
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