Earlier this year, I interviewed U.S. Senate candidate and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel for a piece on United Liberty and have reported on what a far-left radical his opponent, Senator Sherrod Brown is.
Ohio, birthplace of the great Senator Robert “Mr. Republican” Taft, who lead the fight against the New Deal, hasn’t elected a conservative to the Senate in my lifetime. But with endorsesments from FreedomWorks and Senator Jim. DeMint’s Senate Conservative Fund, Mandel has shown himself to be a true movement conservative.
With polls showing the Senate race is tied, outside groups are lining up to help Mandel combat Brown’s support from the environmental lobby and Washington lobbyists.
One such group is the Government Integrity Fund, run by a group of Ohio conservatives, who are running tough ads such as this:
According to today’s Politico influence email update, they are on air now:
OHIO-BASED CONSERVATIVE GROUP BUYS ADS AGAINST BROWN: Government Integrity Fund, a tax-exempt nonprofit, dropped $1 million on ads against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) between Aug. 17 and Sep. 6. The ads aired in Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Lima and Zanesville. The group has previously spent at least an additional $500,000, on ads against Brown and in support of his Republican challenger Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.
Like many other such nonprofit groups that are playing a dominant role in this year’s elections, the Government Integrity Fund is shrouded in mystery. It isn’t required to reveal donors, nor has it answered questions about who runs the group. The Fund’s barebones website lists no contact information beyond a P.O. box.
The only name listed on incorporation papers for the group is a Columbus lawyer, William Todd, who told ProPublica, “I really have no role in their affairs.” (In June, Todd also declined to respond to questions from a Huffington Post reporter, citing attorney-client privilege.)
But previously unreported documents filed with an Ohio television station pull back the curtain a bit: the Government Integrity Fund is run by a state lobbyist who in turn employs a former top Mandel staffer.
The lobbyist, Tom Norris, is listed as the Government Integrity Fund’s chairman and treasurer.
I contacted Tom Norris for comment, and he was rightfully indiginant about this blantant assault on free speech:
In the Citizens United case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the basic principle of the First Amendment that all Americans have a right to speak out on public policy matters. By protecting this important right, the Court created new avenues for Americans to be involved in the political process.
Many new groups have taken advantage of the protection provided by the Supreme Court to speak up about policy matters. At the national level, large organizations, such as Priorities USA, and the Majority Fund are fully engaged in the debate over federal issues such as Congressional spending, health care reform, and reinvigorating our economy.
In Ohio, groups like Our Future Ohio, have also taken advantage of their protected, First Amendment freedom to discuss issues of importance in the Buckeye State. Similarly, the Government Integrity Fund was created in order to focus on those important public policy matters that have a direct impact on the lives of Ohioans.
While there are reputable groups like the US Chamber and Crossroads GPS who are operating in as many as 20 states, the Government Integrity Fund has chosen to operate solely in Ohio at this time, focusing on issues important to Ohioans.
The Government Integrity Fund is simply another independent voice in the robust debate that all Americans wish to see in the public arena. The Fund operates in a manner consistent with our Constitutionally protected First Amendment freedoms and strictly follows federal and state campaign finance laws in its operations.
As Justice Brandeis once noted, the cure for bad speech is more speech. And as liberal public-sector unions have been funding message campaigns for decades, conservatives are only now attempting match the independent political firepower that the left has.
The Government Integrity Fund’s donors have a right to speak. And I applaud their efforts to elect a solid conservative to the U.S. Senate.