EXCLUSIVE: An outside group that backs Republican causes is going up in 15 congressional districts controlled by House Democrats with ads spotlighting H.R. 1 – the Democrats’ massive election reform and campaign finance bill.
The American Action Network (AAN) on Monday is unveiling a new issue advocacy campaign targeting “the corrupt liberal campaign finance bill.” The ads, shared first with Fox News, will be seen in House districts with Democrats who are potentially vulnerable in next year’s midterm elections, when Republicans hope to win back the majority in the chamber they lost in the 2018 midterm elections.
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The Democracy Reform Task Force announced last week that all House Democrats co-sponsored the legislation, which is formally known as the For the People Act of 2021. Democrats say their sweeping election reform bill, which is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, will expand voting rights and “clean up corruption” in politics.
But Republicans slam the measure, saying it would lead to a federal government takeover of elections and accuse Democrats of trying to change election rules to benefit themselves.
The AAN digital ads argue that the measure would give every member of Congress up to $5 million in public funding for their campaigns.
“Alert. Liberals want public money for their campaigns,” the ads read.
The ads urge the Democratic House members targeted “to oppose H.R. 1”
The ads are going up in the congressional districts of Democratic Reps. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Stephanie Murray (FL-07), Carolyn Boudreaux (GA-07), Cindy Axne (IA-03), John Sarbanes (MD-03), Jared Golden (ME-02), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Susan Wild (PA-07), Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Colin Allred (TX-32), Elaine Luria (VA-02) and Ron Kind (WI-03).
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AAN says all 15 representatives, along with an additional 36 House Democrats, will be targeted by a phone call campaign.
“This bill is nothing more than a shameful attempt to shovel public funds to the campaign coffers of corrupt Washington liberals,” AAN President Dan Conston told Fox News. “Especially in a time of unparalleled health and economic crisis, public funds should be used to help end the suffering of this pandemic – not to help Washington politicians get re-elected.”
Democrats highlight that their bill would “improve access to the ballot box” by creating automatic voter registration across the country and by ensuring that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full voting rights restored. The bill will also expand early voting and enhance absentee voting by simplifying voting by mail. There was a surge in absentee voting during last year’s primaries and general election due to health concerns of in-person voting at polling stations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure also commits Congress to deliver “full congressional voting rights and self-government for the residents of the District of Columbia, which only statehood can provide,” prohibits voter roll purges and aims to end “partisan gerrymandering” of congressional districts.
Republicans have repeatedly argued that the push for D.C. statehood is a political move to ensure two permanently Democratic U.S. Senate seats in what is an approximately nine-to-one Democrat-to-Republican jurisdiction.
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If passed into law, the bill would also enhance federal support for voting system security, increase oversight of election system vendors, upgrade online political ad disclosure and require all organizations involved in political activity to disclose their large donors, create a multiple matching system for small-dollar donations, which would be paid for by a new surcharge on “corporate law breakers and wealthy tax cheats,” tighten rules on super PACs, and beef up the enforcement powers of the Federal Election Commission.
In a jab at former President Donald Trump, the bill would also require future presidents to disclose their tax returns – which Trump, in a break from tradition, declined to do during his four years in the White House.
Republicans fiercely opposed an early version of the bill during the last congressional session.
Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky labeled it the “Democrat Politician Protection Act” and said in an op-ed that Democrats were seeking to “change the rules of American politics to benefit one party.”
On Sunday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said at the time that the bill would lead to a massive federal government takeover that would undermine the integrity of elections.
“We would lose our freedom,” McCarthy said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
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AAN tells Fox News it is spending in the mid-five figures on the digital ads, which it says will run on platforms like Google.
The new campaign follows another modest ad buy by AAN a couple of weeks ago spotlighting the combustible issue of school reopenings amid the pandemic.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.