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Halter demands FEC probe of shadowy outside group running attack ads

Gettin' hotter in Arkansas.

Bill Halter, who's challenging Blanche Lincoln in a fiercely fought primary, is now demanding that the Feds probe a shadowy outside group that's running over $1 million in attack ads against him without disclosing where the cash is coming from.

Halter's move ups the stakes in the final days of the primary, and could draw more media attention to the activities of the group, Americans for Job Security, which has already drawn some scrutiny for the content of its ad. It features residents of India thanking Halter in heavy accents for exporting jobs to that country.

As I noted here yesterday, the group -- which is apparently backed by business interests, though no one knows for sure -- is trying to influence the primary's outcome without disclosing who they're backing, why, or on whose behalf.

I've obtained a copy of Halter's complaint to the Federal Election Commission, and it takes direct aim at the group's cover story. The group has argued that its ads are exempt from donor disclosure because they amount to what's known as "true issue advocacy."

But Halter's complaint points out that the ads directly target him by accusing him of outsourcing jobs to India -- and that the activities Halter is accused of have nothing to do with any policy dispute.

The ad "has nothing whatsoever to do with U.S. trade policy," the complaint says, adding that it's only taking issue with "his tenure as a director of a private corporation." The complaint charges that the group's refusal to disclose the funders of the ad is "a blatant, knowing and willful violation of the law."

There's little chance the FEC can act quickly enough to stop this group. But it remains striking that the group could conceivably change the outcome of this Senate primary without anyone knowing where any of this cash is coming from, and anything that draws more media scrutiny to this is a good thing.

By Greg Sargent  |  May 7, 2010; 2:29 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems  
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"Anything that draws more media scrutiny to this is a good thing."

Not sure I agree with that (with respect to Halter). The damage is already done, no? And this move merely draws more attention to adverts that must be "working."

Posted by: sbj3 | May 7, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

"Halter demands FEC probe of shadowy outside group running attack ads"

They should start with Blanche. She dost protest too much.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 7, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

If it draws attention to the fact that an anonymous and secretly funded entity is essentially running a smear campaign on a candidate, and if the voters in Arkansas are made aware of it, then it is a good thing. If it somehow forces AJS to reveal where there funding comes from and thereby exposes their true intent even better.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 7, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Halter has no choice. If he does nothing, then this kind of tactic wins by default. Halter's best response is to get mad as hell and demand that these cockroaches be brought out into the light. With any luck, exposing the secrecy and cowardice of this lowlifes will help undo some of the damage. It also wouldn't hurt if the MSM remembered what it was the real journalists used to do.

However, THAT is probably being a bit unrealistic.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 7, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

All, can you please tell me if the comments section is going abnormally slow?

Or any other tech issues?

Posted by: sargegreg | May 7, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

It takes too long for a comment to appear after selecting Submit, but things are fine for me other than that.

Posted by: sbj3 | May 7, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

This site operates at an absolutely geologic tectonic pace.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 7, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

The ONLY way that Halter has a chance to fight back is by doing something equally outrageous. or some other backer of his must smear her equally in order to compensate. Otherwise, the dirty trickster ALWAYS wins in politics....the bloodiest of blood sports.

Posted by: gotoran | May 7, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

It is incredibly slow Greg but otherwise OK, except for the Church Lady always lurking.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 7, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

OT, but it very interesting. It appears that Grassley's all-over-the-map hyper bizarro idiocy has cost him dearly:

Maybe Iowans are going to pull the plug on Grassley! One can hope.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 7, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

It's less the speed that bugs me than the look. It still just seems too austere.

Not suggesting it be too over-elaborate, but I just think it could be easier on the eye. Font size and placement are still rudimentary-looking.

Greg, can this be altered? If not, I'll shut up about it.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 7, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

You can thank the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case for this mess.

With corporations and unions now unshackled from spending whatever amounts of money they choose to spend for or against a candidate, these mysterious attack ads against Bill Halter are just a preview of what's coming down the pike between now and November.

Posted by: SkeeterVT1 | May 7, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Halter needs to make this an issue because it is: Lincoln is a bought-and-paid-for corporate Dem who has done a LOUSY job at serving her constituents in AR and elsewhere.

Other than her incumbency, why would anyone defend her?

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 7, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I do have to wear my sunglasses while reading. LOL

Posted by: lmsinca | May 7, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

BG -- let me find out if the font and background can be played with.

I do know that the slowness factor is temporary and is being worked on, and is expected to be resolved soon.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 7, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Fwiw, I have no problems with the site.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 7, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Greg, if links within comments could be made to actually be links instead of URL's, that would be great.

Otherwise, I have no issues myself.

Posted by: holyhandgrenaid | May 7, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse


A crane late Thursday lowered the containment vessel designed to collect as much as 85 percent of the oil spewing into the Gulf and funnel it up to a tanker. Eventually the crane would give way to underwater robots that will secure the contraption over the main leak at the bottom, a journey that would take hours.

A steel pipe will be installed between the top of the box and tanker. If all goes well, the whole structure could be operating by Sunday.

Can I just ask rhetorically:

Why the F__K are they still trying to get the oil to a tanker?

Why don't they just STOP the freaking leak?

As John Stewart says: 'These f__king guys......'

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 7, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

All, best chickens for checkups moment yet:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 7, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan2010: "Why the F__K are they still trying to get the oil to a tanker?"

From what I've read and seen, they don't really have a choice. The containment vessel isn't designed to plug the leak; as a result, they have to do something with the oil that collects in the vessel. I think this is just a way to try and keep more oil from leaking into the environment.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | May 7, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

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