A mysterious super PAC who supports Democrat nominee for Senate Doug Jones in Alabama has created few advertisements that it seems to be intimidating voters not to vote for Republican candidate Roy Moore.
The Birmingham-based super PAC, called Highway 31, spent nearly $2 million to put out the advertisements.
In the advertisements, Moore is attacked by being called a “child predator,” referring to the allegations that Moore had a sexually inappropriate relationship with a minor when he was in his 30s.
The ads also intimidate Alabama voters by saying their vote is “public record,” and if they vote for Moore people will know.
“If you don’t vote, and Roy Moore — a child predator — wins, could you live with that? Your vote is public record and your community will know whether or not you helped stop Roy Moore,” the ad reads.
Despite the fact that PACs are required to reveal their donors, Highway 31 has apparently discovered a legal loophole.
The ads have allegedly been financed by credit. In its Federal Election Committee filing, Highway 31 listed the debts it owes to the Democrat campaign vendors who created the ads, but the donors are unknown.
Waterfront Strategies and Bully Pulpit Interactive, the main vendors, are consulting firms from Washington, D.C.
When the election is over, it’s likely that a donor will give money to Highway 31 to pay off those debts or the vendors could forgive the debts, in which case the services provided to the super PAC would be counted as in-kind contributions to the group.
Until January, when the super PAC’s FEC filing will become public, the voters will have no clue who is funding Highway 31.
Campaign finance experts were shocked by the group’s tactics
“This is wild,” said Brendan Fischer, the director of FEC and federal reform programs at the Campaign Legal Center, an ethics watchdog group. “This looks like a blatant effort to dodge disclosure requirements. And it could have the effect of keeping voters in the dark about who is funding these ads until after Election Day.”
“I suspect that the vendors who created these ads will wait to invoice the campaign for a few weeks. And then, after Election Day has passed, some megadonor will drop a few million into the Highway 31 super PAC and pay off its debts,” he added.
Fischer pointed out that the strategy is “a shady scheme to deprive voters of information about who is trying to influence them.”
Adam Muhlendorf, an Alabama media consultant who is the executive director of Highway 31, the super PAC didn’t do anything unlawfully. He said, it “continues to follow every appropriate rule and regulation.”
Moore supporters felt the ads were inappropriate and offensive.
— Joemantler (@Joemantler) December 3, 2017
In watching some youtube videos on Cash Cab there is an ad running for Doug Jones as follows: "Your vote is public record & your community will know if you voted to stop Roy Moore" @MooreSenate I will just leave this here. #VoteRoyMoore
— Joan Alexander (@joanalex28) December 3, 2017
I keep hearing there are Doug Jones' ads declaring your vote will be public, which is silly and untrue.
— Dale Jackson (@TheDaleJackson) December 2, 2017
Alabama secretary of state’s office has stated that officials are investigating the ads to see if any laws were violated.
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