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Coleman Took Thousands from Swift Boat Funder.

Coleman took $4,000 from Harold Simmons, who is the top bundler of the "American Issues Project." Coleman’s taken $6,000 from the entire Simmons household.  The group is spending nearly $3 million to run a smear campaign in the Presidential race.

More on Simmons and the American Issues Group:

American Issues Project Announced $2.8 Million Anti-Obama Ad Campaign. The Associated Press reported, “A conservative nonprofit group with a past link to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign wants to spend $2.8 million on an ad questioning Democrat Barack Obama’s relationship to a founder of the 1960s radical group Weather Underground.  The ad, which is expected to begin airing Thursday in Michigan and Friday in Ohio, focuses on William Ayres, whose Weatherman organization took credit for a series of bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol four decades ago.” [Associated Press, 8/21/08]

•    American Issues Project Is 501(c)4 With Tie To McCain. The Associated Press reported, “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.” [Associated Press, 8/21/08]

•    Campaign Finance Experts Said Ad May Violate Election Law. Huffington Post reported, “A new ad raising Barack Obama’s ties to 60s-era radical William Ayres may violate election law, according to campaign finance experts interviewed by the Huffington Post.  ‘This negative campaign ad is clearly express advocacy, and under a federal law passed in 2003, the Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act (known colloquially as McCain-Feingold), it cannot legally be paid for with corporate money, including those of a non-profit,’ said Laura MacCleery, deputy director of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice.  ‘The ad indisputably concerns an election, takes a position on the character and fitness for office of a candidate, and raises no legislative issue.  Even this highly skeptical Supreme Court would turn up its noses at the foul odor emitted by this clear abuse of federal election law.’” [Huffington Post, 8/21/08]

•    Obama Campaign “Accused McCain Of Having A Hand In The Ad.” The Associated Press reported, “Obama’s campaign accused McCain of having a hand in the ad, saying he ‘dispatched his paid consultant to launch this despicable ad from a so-called “independent” committee.’” [Associated Press, 8/21/08]

•    After Claiming It Would Not Run The Ad, Fox News Ran The Ad Anyway. According to Think Progress, “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. … This principled stand fell by the wayside today when Fox News accidentally aired the most [sic] 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 Ayres 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.’” [Think Progress, 8/22/08]

American Issues Project Tied To 2004 Swift Boat Attacks

Christian Pinkston Serves As Spokesman For Anti-Obama Group. The Politico reported, “A new conservative group has produced a television ad attacking Barack Obama for his relationship with former Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers. … The group, the American Issues Project, is a 501(c)4 — which means it isn’t required to disclose its donors. According to a press release set to go out shortly, it’s the product of a coalition of conservative groups, including Iowans for Tax Relief. Its president is Ed Martin, a Missouri conservative. Another official, Ed Failor, Jr., is a former McCain aide in Iowa who left after the campaign’s shakeup last summer.”  According to the Politico, “It’s spokesman, Christian Pinkston, is a former aide to presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and went on to run the conservative group Empower America.”  [Politico, 8/21/08]

Christian Pinkston Founded The Pinkston Group.  According to the “Leadership” page of the Pinkston Grou[s’ website,  “Christian founded the Pinkston Group seven years ago with a focus on influencing policy makers, opinion leaders, and the general public through the media. … Prior to founding the Pinkston Group, Christian served as Vice President of Public Policy in the Washington, D.C. office of Ogilvy Public Relations. Christian served for more than five years as executive director and communications director at Empower America, one of Washington’s most respected and influential political institutions. He served as director of communications for a national political campaign and has been spokesman for two former Cabinet officials. Prior to that, he serv/ed on the staffs of a California Congressman and a U.S. Senator from Maine.” [Pinkston Group Website, Accessed,8/21/07]

Swift Boat Veterans Paid $35,000 To The Pinkston Group In 2004 And 2005 For Consulting And Media Services. According to filings with the Internal Revenue Service, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth paid the Pinkston Group $35,000 for media and consulting services in 2004 and 2005. [IRS, accessed 8/21/08]

Date of Expenditure    Amount    Purpose    Citation
9/30/2004    $15,000    Consulting/Media    3rd Quarter 2004 Filing
11/10/2004    $10,000    Consulting/Media    Post-General Election Report 2004
1/29/2005    $10,000    Consulting/Media    Mid-Year Report 2005

McCain’s Top Aides Have Ties To Anti-Obama Group

American Issues Project Board Member Is Former Paid McCain Consultant. In July 2007, National Journal reported, “Ed Failor, Jr. signed on with 2008 White House hopeful John McCain this January” and would be paid $10,000 a month in consulting fees. [National Journal, 7/21/07; American Issues Project, accessed 8/21/08]

•    Failor Left McCain Campaign During Staff 2007 Shake Up. National Journal reported, “When he lost his paycheck in the second round of staff and consultant cutbacks that were forced early this month by another disappointing quarter of fundraising, Failor said he was willing to keep working for the Arizonan. But after campaign manager Terry Nelson (an Iowan) and senior adviser John Weaver resigned, Failor, who had close ties to both, also departed.” [National Journal, 7/21/07]

McCain Bundler Is American Issues Project’s Sole Funder. Politico reported, “The spokesman for American Issues Project, the independent group whose ad is the most negative of the cycle and links Obama to terrorism, says the group just filed a report namin
g its sole donor.  The donor, spokesman Christian Pinkston said, is Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, who made his first fortune in chain pharmacies and is now listed as the 73rd richest person in the world, with a net worth estimated by Forbes at $2.1 billion.” [Politico, 8/22/08]

•    Harold Simmons Has Raised Up To $100,000 For McCain’s Presidential Campaign.  According to John McCain’s website, Harold Simmons has raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for his 2008 presidential campaign.  [, accessed 8/22/08]
•    Harold Simmons Donated $2 Million To The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth.  According to The Nation, Harold Simmons donated $2 million to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.  [Nation, 1/2/08]

•    Harold Simmons Has Donated To McCain Since He First Ran For Senate In 1986.  According to CQMoneyline, Swift Boat donor Harold Simmons has donated $5,300 to John McCain, including his first senaterace in 1986.  [CQ Moneyline, accessed 8/21/08]

American Issues Project Tied To Former GOP V.P. Nominee Jack Kemp. Politico reported that American Issues Project’s “spokesman, Christian Pinkston, is a former aide to presidential candidate Jack Kemp, and went on to run the conservative group Empower America.” [Politico, 8/21/08]

•    Pinkston Worked With Senior McCain Advisers Charlie Black And Wayne Berman For Kemp As V.P. Nominee In 1996. National Journal reported, “‘Principal members’ of Kemp’s campaign staff ‘were in place before he was named’ running-mate, including Wayne Berman, a Commerce Dept. official under Bush, as campaign dir.; ex-NRSC general counsel Fred Maas as depty. Mgr; and Charlie Black ‘as an unpaid adviser.’  Other Kemp staff… [includes] Kerry Pymchuk and Christian Pinkston as speech writers.” [National Journal, 8/13/96, emphasis added]

•    Charlie Black Ran Kemp’s Unsuccessful 1988 Presidential Bid. The Washington Post reported, “Today, just one month after his worst Election Day as a consultant, Black is to assume leadership of the presidential exploratory committee of Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.).  Black will become Kemp’s chief political consultant and the chief executive officer of the exploratory committee.  ‘He is the boss, the preeminent political figure who will direct not only the exploratory committee, but the Kemp presidential campaign,’ said John Buckley, Kemp’s press secretary.” [Washington Post, 12/1/86]

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