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Thursday, May 1, 2014

FEC questions dark-money fund that is also spending in Arkansas a.g. race

Posted By on Thu, May 1, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Thanks to Dave Levinthal at Public Integrity I've learned that the American Future Fund of Des Moines, Ia., has heard from the Federal Election Commission about its failure to file a quarterly report on its independent campaign expenditures in April.

I'm interested because the fund is spending heavily on TV ads in Arkansas intended to support the Republican candidacy of David Sterling for attorney general. A precise estimate on the spending has not been reported yet, but it's a significant buy, rumored to be from $250,000 to $400,000. One ad features Sterling's support for a stand your ground gun law, but "free market" ideology is the fund's major interest, not gun laws. As a 501c4, it evades most financial reporting requirements and the source of its money has always been shadowy.

I'm not sure if the federal report would require the fund to report spending on non-federal races. Organizations that make Independent expenditures for messages that don't expressly advocate election or defeat of a political candidate are exempt by Arkansas law from required contribution and expenditure reporting. It's one of many legal loopholes that the state law should be changed to address.

The ads for Sterling urge viewers to call legislators to express support for a law Sterling favors. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand this is an ad for Sterling, if not under the explicit terms of court precedent.

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