In just the three days since First Read reported that ad spending had reached $605.7 million this presidential campaign, another $25 million has been booked.
And notably, there’s a new major player on the scene – Americans for Job Security, a shadowy group with no requirement to disclose its donors. It booked $8.7 million – in its first buy this presidential cycle – in six battleground states: FL, OH, VA, IA, CO, and NC.
Its dark-and-gloomy ad (from its website) depicts a baby in a crib looking up at a cracked ceiling as an announcer asks: “What are his hopes, his future? Under the path we were on, it’s darker, weaker, less secure. All because our president has no plan to balance the budget ever. Obama wants to raise the debt ceiling by trillions, so he can pay for his reckless spending. Sign the petition, saying no to a debt-ceiling increase, because at some point, the ceiling will break.”
Americans for Job Security is classified as a 501(c)(6) “business league,” according to its website. “Under the law, this type of organization is designed to promote the ‘common business interests’ of its members,” it says.
The Alexandria, Va.-based group purports to be an “independent, bi-partisan, pro-business issue advocacy organization,” but it’s run by the former head of the New Hampshire Republican Party, and it ran ads supporting Scott Brown (R-MA) and against Bill Halter (D) in Arkansas in 2010. It has also played in GOP Senate primaries, running ads against Pete Hoekstra (R) in the Michigan governor’s race, against Jane Norton (R) for Colorado Senate, and Rep. Gresham Barrett (R) in the South Carolina governor’s race.
FactCheck.org points out that it “does not disclose its donors. It says only that its members are ‘businesses, business leaders and entrepreneurs.’”
It also notes the group's run-in with the Federal Election Commission in 2008:
“In 2008, staff lawyers for the Federal Election Commission saw ‘reason to believe’ that AJS had violated federal election law by, among other things, failing to register as a political committee and failing to disclose its donors. But in 2009 the three Republican commissioners on the FEC blocked any action, voting to dismiss the case while the three Democratic commissioners voted to pursue it. Since a majority is required for the FEC to act, the partisan 3-3 deadlock killed any enforcement action against AJS. When the Supreme Court later struck down longstanding federal laws against campaign spending by corporations and labor unions, AJS President DeMaura told the Wall Street Journal the decision was an ‘unequivocal victory’ for those ‘who believe in free speech and the rights of organizations such as ours to promote our point of view.’
“Since its inception AJS says it has raised nearly $60 million and run more than 90 different TV spots in 46 states and the District of Columbia. [Stephen] DeMaura [its president] told FactCheck.org that as of mid-August , the group had spent $6.3 million in the 2010 election cycle, but he would not say what the group expected to spend during the remainder of the election campaign.”
In all this election, more than $630 million has been spent on TV and radio ads by the presidential campaigns and outside groups.
Team Romney (groups supporting Republican Mitt Romney, including Super PACs, the campaigns and other groups) has outspent Team Obama $338 million to $292 million.