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Bill Cassidy Opposes DISCLOSE Act That Would Require Koch Brothers, AFP To Stand By Attack Ads & Disclose Donors

Bill Cassidy Opposes DISCLOSE Act That Would Require Koch Brothers, AFP To Stand By Attack Ads & Disclose Donors
Cassidy Literally Thanked Koch-Backed Group Americans For Prosperity For False Attack Ads

New Orleans, Louisiana – The billionaire Koch brothers are “skirt[ing] around the intent of federal laws” in order to back millions in attack ads aimed at Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, and Congressman Bill Cassidy is enabling their ad campaign on his behalf by opposing the DISCLOSE Act.

Americans for Prosperity, the flagship attack group founded by the Koch brothers, has spent millions on attack ads against Sen. Landrieu, all without disclosing so much as a single one of its donors. When asked by WRKF about the funding for one of its anti-Landrieu ads, the group’s Louisiana state director even said, “I cannot speak honestly with you about the funding for that.” AFP can do this because it set itself up as a 501c4 in order to avoid basic disclosure requirements.

The DISCLOSE Act would force groups such as AFP to disclose their donors of at least $1,000. It would require the top funders of their advertisements – for example the Koch brothers – to “stand by” their ads, just like candidates do. And Bill Cassidy opposes it.

It’s clear why that’s the case. The Koch brothers have endorsed Bill Cassidy, he’s the beneficiary of their multi-million dollar ad campaign against Sen. Landrieu and his public relationship with AFP dates back to at least November of 2013, when Cassidy literally thanked a staff member of the group for their ads while campaigning at one of their events. He conveniently left the AFP event off of his official campaign schedule.

“By opposing the DISCLOSE Act, Bill Cassidy is practically begging shadowy special interest groups such as AFP – backed by the out-of-state billionaire Koch brothers – to spend millions on his behalf,” said Campaign for Louisiana Communications Director Andrew Zucker. “AFP’s agenda for Louisiana is to kill bipartisan flood insurance reform, reject health care for 250,000 working Louisianians, and enact Bobby Jindal’s disastrous failed tax plan while slashing Social Security and Medicare. It’s as anti-Louisiana as you can get, and Louisianians ought to know which millionaires or billionaires are paying for their smear attacks against Sen. Landrieu.”

BACKGROUND

2010: Cassidy Sided With Special Interests Over Transparency in Campaign Finance Reform And Voted Against The DISCLOSE Act. In 2010, Cassidy voted against campaign finance reforms that required transparency and disclosure in campaign spending.  The bill would tighten disclosure rules on campaign advertising by corporations, unions and other independent groups and would prohibit corporations that are foreign-controlled or have received government assistance from making expenditures in political campaigns.  Among other provisions, the bill required disclosure of donors of over $1,000 for groups that spend more than $10,000 on independent expenditures and electioneering communications.  The leaders of these group would also have to “stand by your ad” like all political candidates. The top funders of the advertisement would have also had to appear, while the top five donors to the organization would have to be listed at the end of the advertisement. The legislation would have freed organizations with 500,000 or more members, have existed for at least 10 years, and meet other criteria from having to identify their top donors. Those groups would still be required to abide by most of the bill’s new regulations, but not the disclaimer requirement that requires a “stand by your ad” provision. The bill passed, 219-206. [CQ Today, 6/24/10; HR 5175, Vote391, 6/24/10; Summary of DISCLOSE Act, accessed 2/24/14]

  • 2008: As A State Senator, Cassidy Supported Repealing A Law Requiring Third-Party Groups To Detail Contributors And Expenses When The Ethics Board Asked For A Delay In Implementing The Law. In April 2008, the Associated Press reported: “The Louisiana Senate refused to suspend the Saturday start date of a new law requiring outside, third-party groups that try to influence elections to detail their contributors and their expenses.  Supporters of the delay said Thursday that the state ethics board doesn’t have the ability yet to deal with the reporting requirement and that the board believes the campaign finance reporting requirement goes well beyond what the Legislature intended when it passed the law. ‘If the ethics folks say they can’t implement it, what’s the point of having the law?’ said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge.” [Associated Press, 4/24/08]

December 2013: Americans For Prosperity Declined A Request By The Times-Picayune To Identify Its Donors. “We asked Carrie Severino, counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network, whether she would voluntarily disclose who paid for the anti-Landrieu ads so the public could judge the credibility — and potential motives — of those paying for the ads. She explained that some donors want to protect their privacy, which is “understandable,” she said, given the recent scandal in which the IRS was accused of targeting the tax-exempt applications of Tea Party and other conservative voters. Americans for Prosperity also declined a request to identify who is paying for its anti-Landrieu ads.” [Times-Picayune, 12/7/13]

January 2014: Americans for Prosperity’s Louisiana State Director Says “I Cannot Speak Honestly With You About The Funding For That Ad.” Radio Host Jim Engster: “How did you raise the $600,000 for the television ad campaign that you’re running right now?” AFP State Director Phillip Joffrion: “Well to be honest, Jim, I just came on and launched that. There was a national initiative. I cannot speak honestly with you about the funding for that ad. It’s just not information that I have and I so don’t feel that I’m informed enough at this point in time to discuss the funding specifically for that ad.” [WRKF, 1/6/14]

February 2014: Americans For Prosperity Again Declined Request By Times-Picayune To Identify Its Donors. “Neefus didn’t respond to a question of who funded the anti-Landrieu ads, or whether the group would continue to fight legislation intended to keep flood insurance premiums affordable. The group, which is spending heavily on ads to promote GOP challengers in hopes of turning the Democratic-run Senate Republican, doesn’t disclose its financial backers. But the Koch Brothers have been identified as a major source of the group’s revenue.” [Times-Picayune, 2/15/14]

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