A wealthy Texas home-builder is the primary underwriter of a political action committee that is producing television and radio ads and direct mail pieces attacking Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine.
Bob Perry, who has donated large sums of money to conservative causes, gave $1 million to Independence Virginia PAC in the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, according to the groups report filed with the Federal Election Commission. That represents nearly all of the $1,087,500 the “super PAC” raised during the period, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
The group so far has spent nearly $300,000 on radio ads opposing Kaine, $160,000 for television spots and $134,000 for mail pieces, according to VPAP. Kaine is running against Republican George Allen for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Jim Webb.
Perry, who lives in Houston, was a major funder of the 2004 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, an independent group that launched controversial ads attacking Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. He also contributed $80,000 to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s 2009 campaign and another $125,000 to McDonnell’s political action committee, according to VPAP.
The super PACs make up just part of the outside spending aimed at influencing the outcome of the Senate and presidential elections in Virginia. Tax-exempt groups that are not required to disclose their donors also are pouring millions of dollars into advertising, much of it negative.
Kaine’s campaign singled out another donor to Independence Virginia PAC for criticism. Wyoming businessman and Christian conservative Foster Friess, who gave $10,000 to the super PAC, has made public statements that reflect “intolerant views,” Kaine said.
“We should all agree that out-of-state contributions from individuals like Foster Friess should have no influence in this race. Mr. Friess has spoken on the need for ‘more intolerance.’ He suggested that President Obama should invest in a ‘bulletproof teleprompter.’ And, in an interview with (NBC’s) Andrea Mitchell in February of this year, he ridiculed the need for contraception, suggesting that women just put aspirin between their knees.”
Kaine called on Allen “to reject the intolerant views of Foster Friess and ask Independence Virginia to return his contribution.”
Allen campaign spokeswoman Emily Davis accused Kaine of playing both sides of the fence when it comes to independent expenditure advertising. She noted that Kaine’s campaign was openly promoting a new ad by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee attacking Allen’s economic plan.
“It’s pretty hypocritical for Tim Kaine to launch attacks on outside spending when labor unions, radical environmentalists and Washington Democrats are bankrolling his message,” Davis said.
– Michael Sluss