Joe Sestak Calls on Congressman Toomey to Support DISCLOSE ACT
Toomey’s Club for Growth Spending Millions on Negative Ads
MEDIA, Pa – Following the Republican filibuster that blocked the DISCLOSE Act this week, U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak called on Congressman Toomey to support the legislation that will prevent third-party groups backed by special interests from launching negatives attacks without disclosing who is funding them.
The DISCLOSE Act, drafted to reinstate some much-needed transparency to political campaigns since the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, would have required corporations and special interests to step out from behind the curtain and declare their involvement. Admiral Sestak, who voted for the DISCLOSE Act, understands this is an important step toward ensuring that corporations and special interests can’t circumvent the protected electoral process and believes that Congressman Toomey should affirm the same ideal.
“Congressman Toomey has a choice: he can either hide behind third-party attack ads that obfuscate the truth or make Pennsylvanians a promise to run a clean campaign,” said Joe. “Voters should be able to make informed decisions and not have to cast their ballot based on false or misleading ads from unnamed sources.”
Congressman Toomey’s position opposing the DISCLOSE Act is anchored in a history of past support for the unfettered influence of lobbyists.
The Wall Street funded-Club for Growth’s political action wing has purchased $291,000 in television airtime for negative spots against Admiral Sestak as part of a $1.5 million buy in five states. This is the group’s second purchase in Pennsylvania following a $500,000 buy last month. [San Francisco Examiner, 9/22/10; Club for Growth, press release, 9/16/10]
While he was President of the Club for Growth, Congressman Toomey’s organization violated the Federal Election Campaign Act and was sued by the FEC for operating as a political committee, but never registering as such to avoid limits on campaign contributions. In the settlement, they were required to pay a record $350,000 civil penalty, file disclosure reports to the FEC and return excess funds to the U.S. Treasury. [Federal Election Commission, press release, 9/5/07]
As president of the Club for Growth, Toomey applauded its reorganization to a 501(c)4 unit that has few restrictions on disclosure, saying the change would create “a significant new ability to run advertisements that directly call for the election or defeat of candidates” and that “unlike the past, your donations to the Club will not be disclosed to the public.” [Wall Street Journal, 12/19/07]
The Club collected almost $350,000 in contributions from corporations — prohibited from donating money to federal elections — to fund right-wing candidates in 2000 and 2001, again in violation of federal election law and outlined in the FEC suit. [Federal Election Commission, press release, 9/19/05]
Congressman Toomey voted for a bill that included a provision to relax disclosure requirements for 527 political organizations, effectively opening a soft money loophole. [HR 3991, House Vote 85, 4/10/02]
Third-party attack ads are a crutch for candidates who can’t rely on their own merit and need corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to dilute the voice of the people. Congressman Toomey has not only had to rely on the help of the Club to Growth, but a host of other third party, special interest groups to launch false and misleading attacks against Admiral Sestak, including:
The US Chamber of Commerce: An ad against Joe was rated “false” by an NBC affiliate and “questionable” by an ABC affiliate
American Crossroads: An ad by the group founded by former Bush Administration ‘architect’ Karl Rove and former Enron lobbyist Ed Gillespie was deemed “egregious” by one fact check organization, while a second declared: “none of it is true’
Emergency Committee for Israel: The group’s ad was criticized by numerous media outlets for “Swiftboating” and for being an “Outrageous” and “Out-of-Line” politicization of Israel. The group is led by Bill Kristol, a conservative pundit who accused President Obama of “bullying BP” and Gary Bauer, who founded the conservative Family Research Council