Senator Kelly Ayotte is battling trouble on multiple fronts, from her awkward attempts to distance herself from onetime ally Frank Guinta to her experiment in legislation to cover up her anti women’s health record and getting busted in a lie about a campaign film crew at a taxpayer-funded event. Now, she’s turning to a pair of shady old allies to try and rough up Governor Maggie Hassan with misleading claims about her record. Read more about Ayotte’s ties to this shady special interest group in the Bridge Project’s Conservative Transparency database:
Impact America Action is a shadowy right-wing organization that first popped up in the 2014 Nebraska gubernatorial election. In that election, the group ran $200,000 in ads against then-candidate Pete Ricketts “for once supporting a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants during his 2006 U.S. Senate race” despite Ricketts’ reversal on that position in 2014, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
Virtually no information is available about the organization, and IAA’s website provides little more than a boilerplate endorsement of “pro-growth solutions.”
In June 2015, the organization purchased more than $1 million in television advertising attacking New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan’s “budget and tax policies,” according to WMUR. The ads, which sought to pre-empt an anticipated Senate run by Hassan, accuse her of having “a spending problem” and came co-packaged with a website: www.ProtectNewHampshire.com.
In launching the ads, though, the group and station had to file documents with the FCC, which managed to shed a minimal amount of light on the opaque organization. The group’s listed “Executive Committee” is composed of New Hampshire GOP operative Mike Dennehy, recently hired as a senior adviser in New Hampshire for Gov. Rick Perry’s 2016 presidential run, and Brad Wing.
Dennehy’s involvement in ads attacking Gov. Hassan should not be surprising, as the veteran GOP operative has a long history of involvement with Hassan’s would-be opponent, Sen. Kelly Ayotte. A series of Ayotte’s emails released via a right-to-know request revealed that Ayotte was planning a congressional run “as early as 2006″ with the encouragement of, among others, Dennehy, who wrote to her: “Gearin up for Congress” in November of that year.
And four years later, when Ayotte first pursued her Senate seat, Dennehy was involved in making ads featuring Ayotte which three FEC commissioners believed violated campaign finance restrictions. The ads, published by the New Hampshire Republican Senate Majority Committee and designed by Dennehy, featured Ayotte “endorsing” two candidates for state Senate. However, as the FEC commissioners note, “Ayotte’s photograph is approximately twelve times the size of each of the other candidates’ photographs” and the font consisting of her name is much larger than the font asking the reader to vote for the other candidates. Dennehy “coordinated with the Ayotte campaign” to make the ads, repeatedly checking in with an Ayotte consultant. The commissioners concluded that “bona fide endorsements emphasize the candidates being endorsed – not the candidate offering the endorsement.”
Similarly, Brad Wing is a senior project manager at GS Strategy Group, helmed by Brooks Kochvar, who was Sen. Ayotte’s campaign manager. Kochvar also served as campaign manager and deputy chief of staff to Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith, whose now-defunctLeadership PAC was named… Impact America.
The group’s listed address in Plainfield, IN was at least recently home to ActRight Legal Foundation, a project of the anti-gayNational Organization for Marriage’s president Brian Brown. ActRight has received funding from the “virulently anti-gay” Alliance Defending Freedom. One of ActRight Legal Foundation’s lawyers, Joseph Vanderhulst, was also listed by IAA as a member of the executive committee. The Plainfield address is also currently the home of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, another project related to Brown and NOM. PILF has represented the American Civil Rights Union, home of one of America’s most notoriously homophobic writers, Robert Knight.
Read more on ConservativeTransparency.org.
Published: Jun 9, 2015