Part five of ThinkProgress’ profiles of right-wing groups that are taking advantage of the Citizens United ruling to flood the airways with independent attack ads. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
American Future Fund is a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organization.
Founded in 2007 by Nick Ryan, a longtime aide to former George W. Bush Office of Management and Budget ex-Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA), and a consultant for Rick Santorum’s 2012 campaign, AFF says it aims to “provide Americans with a conservative and free market viewpoint to have a mechanism to communicate and advocate on the issues that most interest and concern them.”
The group’s president, Sandra Greiner, is also a Republican Iowa state senator.
These men are not cheering for unlimited corporate election spending.
The American Future Fund (AFF), a shadowy right-wing attack ad group that does not identify its donors, was responsible for one of the most racially offensive ads of the 2010 cycle. But its latest online ad, “Thank You Senator McConnell,” may be one of the 2012 cycle’s most ridiculous.
The 80-second spot features images of the nation’s Founding Fathers, American troops on D-Day, anti-government protesters wielding “Don’t Tread On Me” flags, and a clip of Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) recent speech blasting calls for disclosure and limits to unfettered corporate political spending — all while text on the screen suggests American veterans fought for corporations’ right to buy and sell elections:
Heroes fought and died four our rights. Among them, the right to speak freely. It’s what makes us American. And our president swore to uphold it. But now, the First Amendment is under attack. By our own President.
Watch the spot:
Despite attempts by McConnell and his allies at AFF to make the issue about free speech, it is not. Prior to the Supreme Court’s election buying decision in Citizens United, no corporate CEO was prevented from saying anything he or she wished about political candidates and issues, as loudly and as often as he or she wished. This ruling was about whether CEOs and other corporate leaders could use unlimited pools of money from their corporate treasury to drown out the speech of everyone else.
Moreover, given that polling indicates more Americans believe in witchcraft than agree with Citizens United, it seems unlikely that the troops storming Normandy were doing so to protect the right of giant corporations to buy elections for sympathetic politicians.
The American Future Fund, a shady right-wing front group incorporated as a 501 c(4), is running a radio ad in Colorado criticizing Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) for “blocking American energy.” The ad, promoting an offshore drilling bill sponsored by 87 House Republicans, is replete with falsehoods:
Here are a few things to think about next time you pull up to the pump. The U.S. actually has more oil resources than Saudi Arabia. But Congress has put up to 85% of these resources off limits. Cuba is drilling for oil off the Florida coast but Congress continues to stop U.S. companies from doing the same thing.
The “things to think about” are simply incorrect. In fact, Saudi Arabia has ten times as much oil as the United States, most offshore oil is available for drilling, and there is no drilling taking place in Cuban waters:
The U.S. Has 2 Percent Of The World’s Oil, Saudi Arabia Has 20 Percent. The best estimates of the world’s proved oil reserves are that the United States has 22 to 30 billion barrels of oil, out of 1.2 to 1.3 trillion barrels worldwide — 1.6 to 2.5 percent of total reserves. Saudi Arabia has by far the greatest supply of oil, with 20 to 22 percent of total reserves. [Energy Information Administration, 2007]
75 Percent of U.S. Offshore Reserves Are Available For Drilling. “Most of the country’s estimated offshore reserves – about 75 percent – lie in areas that have been drilled for years or are being opened for exploration. Roughly 48 percent of the nation’s estimated reserves, or 41 billion barrels, lie beneath the western and central Gulf of Mexico, where oil companies armed with new drilling technology are pushing into ever deeper water. Another 27 percent of the estimated reserves, or 23.6 billion barrels, are believed to lie off the north coast of Alaska, where the federal government sold oil exploration leases this spring, despite fears that the work would hurt the polar bear population.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 7/22/2008]
No Drilling Is Taking Place In Cuban Waters. “Cuba’s state oil company, Cupet, has issued exploration contracts to companies from India, Canada, Spain, Malaysia and Norway, according to diplomats. But many oil companies from those countries have expressed reservations about how to turn potential crude oil into product. Cuba doesn’t have the refinery capacity, and the Cuban embargo prohibits the oil from coming to U.S. refineries.” According to Jorge Piñón, a senior energy fellow at the University of Miami specializing in Latin America, “[N]o one is currently drilling in any of those concessions.” [McClatchy, 6/11/2008]
In exploiting high gas prices to promote a Big Oil agenda, the right wing is telling falsehoods, over and over again.