A dark money group has launched a radio ad campaign in support of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s re-election less than a week after the Missouri Democrat railed against dark money at a town hall.
Majority Forward, a 501(c)(4) organization with links to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, announced Wednesday that it had spent $500,000 on radio ads meant to boost McCaskill.
This type of organization can spend unlimited dollars without disclosing its donors under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which McCaskill panned as the “worst Supreme Court decision in our lifetime” at a town hall in Parkville last week.
The ads, which will air over a four-week period, tout the former Jackson County prosecutor’s rural roots and her efforts to pass legislation meant to benefit rural hospitals.
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“A daughter of rural Missouri, Claire McCaskill’s determined to protect rural health care. Born in Rolla, raised in the small towns of Houston and Lebanon, Mo., her father worked at the local feed mill. Her mother’s family ran the corner drug store,” the ad’s narrator states.
McCaskill is running for re-election in 2018 in a state that voted for Republican President Donald Trump by double digits, and the race could help decide the power balance in the U.S. Senate. She has already been targeted by right-leaning groups over her decision to oppose Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation.
She warned attendees at her Parkville town hall last week that dark money groups on both sides would spend “probably close to $100 million” over the next 18 months, and she encouraged people to ignore their advertising entirely.
“I don’t care if it’s an ad paid for by ‘We Love America’ or ‘We Hate Taxes’ or ‘Motherhood and Apple Pie.’ I don’t care if the ad is telling you I’m the best thing since sliced bread. I don’t care if the ad is for me or against me. If it doesn’t say paid for by either Claire McCaskill or the name of the Republican nominee and ‘I approved this message,’ ignore it all. Don’t pay attention to any of it. Even if it’s supposed to be helping me, I want you to ignore it.”
McCaskill’s spokesman, John LaBombard, said in a phone call Tuesday that the senator “stands by her point” that Missourians should only pay attention to ads paid for by the official campaigns.
Majority Forward did not immediately comment on McCaskill’s criticism of dark money.
During the Parkville event, McCaskill touted her support for the Disclose Act, a piece of legislation that would enact additional disclosure requirements for third-party groups.
“Who knows who’s paying for the ads, and who knows if they’re making it up?” she said. “And I’m not saying this is just the Republicans. This is both sides. This is both sides. So I am committed to cleaning up this Citizens United mess in this country, and I’m not going to rest until we figure out a way to at least make it transparent. You should at least know who’s paying for it.”