PA-12: Russell Campaign coordinating with PACs?
A political action committee connected to a controversial GOP consulting firm is running ads on behalf of one of the firm’s major clients, raising questions about coordination between groups that are required by law to operate independently of each other.
The PAC, Freedom’s Defense Fund, is running an ad on behalf of Iraq war veteran William Russell (R), the ’08 GOP nominee against Rep. John Murtha (D). Though he raised and spent nearly $3.5M, Russell was not the party’s choice to run for Murtha’s seat when the long-time Congressman passed away earlier this year.
Instead, PA GOPers picked businessman Tim Burns (R) to carry their standard in the May 18 special election. But that wasn’t the end of Russell’s hopes; May 18 is also the date of the regularly scheduled primary, in which Russell is competing against Burns.
The competitive primary could put Burns in an awkward position of having to defend his right flank while simultaneously appealing to the Dem voters in the overwhelmingly Dem district as he faces a special election and a primary on the same day. Russell, after all, has been on a ballot before; he won 42% of the vote against Murtha in ’08.
Enter Freedom’s Defense Fund, which late last week dropped $20K into an ad buy on Russell’s behalf. The ad calls Russell a “true conservative,” a “tireless campaigner” and a “proven fundraiser.”
Freedom’s Defense Fund, a PAC founded just before the ’04 elections, lists as its address in the ad the same downtown DC address as Base Connect, a GOP direct-mail firm that has helped Russell raise millions through direct mail solicitations.
More on this to come.
Cross-posted to my own blog.