The right-wing American Issues Project has spent $2.8 million on an ad questioning Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) relationship to William Ayers, a founder of the 1960s radical group Weather Underground. American Issues Project had hoped to air the controversial ad on Fox News, but even the conservative network refused, reportedly wanting nothing to do with it:
American Issues Project, the sponsor of the ad, is a nonprofit 501(c)4 organization. One of its board members, Ed Failor Jr., was a paid consultant for McCain’s campaign in Iowa last year. The campaign paid his firm $50,000 until July 2007. American Issues Project spokesman Christian Pinkston said Failor has no connection to the McCain campaign now.
Organizers sought to air the ad on Fox News Channel, but a Fox spokesman said the network declined to run it. He would not say why.
This principled stand fell by the wayside today when Fox News accidentally aired the most of the ad. During a segment about Obama’s ties to Tony Rezko, Fox News attempted to play McCain’s latest ad on the subject. However, the Ayers ad began playing instead.
After the ad was almost done, correspondent Molly Henneberg looked confused and said, “This is not the right ad.” Shep Smith replied, “It was an ad. Come on, give us a break. It’s busy back here today.” Watch it:
Election experts yesterday raised concerns that this ad may violate election law. Laura MacCleery of the Brennan Center for Justice told Huffington Post that the ad is clearly “express advocacy” and “cannot legally be paid for with corporate money, including those of a non-profit.” In response, the American Issues Project has agreed to disclose its individual donors to the FEC.
News Hounds notes that the ad also ran on Thursday’s edition of Hannity and Colmes.