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Is Speaker Pelosi Violating Campaign Finance Laws?

Did the speaker encourage illegal contact between the Democratic Party and outside "independent" groups to facilitate ad expenditures?

by
Richard Pollock

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October 29, 2010 - 12:23 am
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According to Politico’s Jonathan Martin, Pelosi answered their rising anger:

Pelosi acknowledged the problem and assured the Democrats that, while organized labor was helping with field operations, she was trying to get allied liberal groups to give House Democrats some air cover, too.

A Democratic aide told Martin things were going to get rough for the activists if they didn’t respond:

[A] Democratic aide fired a warning shot at liberal groups, suggesting that their absence from the campaign could have “long-term ramifications.

Roll Call reported that House members, with Pelosi in attendance, fumed about the lack of liberal spending on the airwaves.

Quoting Pelosi, Roll Call reporter Anna Palmer reported:

Rank-and-file House Democrats used a Caucus meeting Thursday to complain to leaders that liberal groups aren’t doing enough to help them this election cycle.

“The message from liberal groups was that they would be there for Democrats,” one leadership aide said. “There’s a growing unease that these people are AWOL.”

Within a month, liberal and progressive groups were on the air.

These proclamations in the caucus meetings by Pelosi and Larsen constitute a “deliberate, willful and intentional violation of the Act by specifically requesting that outside organizations make public communications in support of Democratic candidates for Congress,” the complaint states.

Let Freedom Ring charges that in late September the Sierra Club Political Committee began its “independent” TV and radio ads.  So too did VoteVets.org Action Committee.  A union group called Workers of America Working Voices also began their ad campaign in September.

In October, Let Freedom Ring reported that ads were popping up from the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, the BlueGreen Alliance, Majority Action PAC, the American Federation of Teachers, Blue America PAC, The American Worker, Inc., the 2010 Leadership Council, and the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education.

Money and Politics Report indicated that by October 19, liberal third-party groups and unions had reported raising $5.2 million and that many “Democratic leaning” groups were gearing up for an ad push.

Money and Politics focused on one typical liberal group — America’s Families First Action Fund — that was first reported in a leak to the New York Times:

A new Democratic-leaning group called America’s Families First Action Fund has begun sponsoring broadcast ads and mailings in a half-dozen key House races, pushing back against an onslaught of spending by Republican-leaning groups, according to new Federal Election Commission filings.

The FEC “independent expenditure” reports indicate that the new group, which reportedly is being spearheaded by former Democratic Party operatives, spent $1.1 million through Oct. 13 on messages opposing Republican candidates in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

The overall goal was described as an “effort [to] both oppose Republicans   with issue-based communication and support Democrats with targeted persuasion and turnout of progressive minded voters,” according to the leaked document, which was titled “Sustaining the House Majority: An Independent Effort for the 2010 Election.”

When many of these organizations did gear up for their ad war, did they do so because they truly believed in Obama and the Democrats? Or did they do it because they heard the threats from Democrats and wanted to please Speaker Nancy Pelosi?

That’s what we hope the Federal Election Committee investigates.

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Richard Pollock is the Washington, D.C., editor for PJ Media and the Washington bureau chief of PJTV.
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