UPDATE, 4/22 5pm: The overall ad buy is around $90k so far nationwide, per the FEC’s reports. $5937.50 was spent on radio against Farenthold and $3800 against Canseco. So House Majority PAC did put some money behind their buy, but so far it looks like the media buy was to get media coverage for their press release.
The Houston Chronicle reports that, “A new Democratic “Super PAC” began targeting [with attack ads] freshman Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, on Thursday for supporting the House GOP budget. . .” The same group, House Majority PAC, is also “targeting” San Antonio Congressman Francisco Canseco.
But are they really? Or did the Chronicle get duped? It looks like they did, but we won’t know definitively for another day or two because of campaign finance law.
Just two days ago, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a very similar press release for a larger — but very similar — group of newly elected Republican members of Congress. It used the same false claims about Republicans and Medicare that Democrats trot out every election cycle to try to scare seniors. They even sent DCCC Chair Steve Israel to MSNBC to talk about their so-called “ad blitz.”
One little problem: it was a total sham — there was no ad blitz. In one Indiana district the entire ad buy against a particular congressman was…$40. Yes, $40. The DCCC’s entire nationwide “ad blitz” cost $6000. Considering that Barack Obama is expected to raise a billion dollars for his re-election campaign, the DCCC got caught just sending a press release with the hope that gullible journalists wouldn’t double-check.
It’s likely that the House Majority PAC is similarly trying to pull a fast one on Texas journalists. The targeted group is very similar and the message is just about the same. First, the House Majority PAC just filed its paperwork with the FEC and started less than two weeks ago. They haven’t had much time to fundraise and don’t even have a website yet. Second, a PAC of this kind is required to notify the FEC within 48 hours once it crosses $10,000 in spending (which it would immediately if this were real). So far, it has not. Third, the House Majority PAC’s Youtube page has just three ads (one of them has just 50 views), and neither are for Canseco or Farenthold. The most likely explanation for this is that they are actually airing those three ads with a very small amount of money, but not airing the others.
Finally, it would be fairly pointless to spend real money airing attack ads when we have no idea what Canseco or Farenthold’s districts will look like after redistricting. It wouldn’t be unheard of for politicos in Washington, DC, to make this mistake, but it’s not terribly likely.
Journalists beware. Anyone printing the House Majority PAC attacks should do some factchecking. I’ll be checking the independent expenditure filings to see if the House Majority PAC actually made a real buy, but I’d be quite surprised.