Donors funding many of the current political ads that boost or attack candidates are being kept under wraps. But a group sponsoring a new ad campaign calling for gun-control plans from President Obama and Mitt Romney has opted for disclosure.
A report to the Federal Election Commission lists nearly $3.4 million in donations to the ad sponsor — Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
The Aug. 6 FEC filing was the first report in months to list new “electioneering communications” — pre-election TV and radio ads that refer to candidates. This kind of report had stopped coming into the FEC since a federal court ruled in March that groups sponsoring electioneering communications must disclose their donors.
The FEC report filed by Mayors Against Illegal Guns revealed that the group got most of its money from New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who gave more than $3.1 million between January 2011 and July 2012. Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LLP, the parent company of Bloomberg BNA and Bloomberg.com, is co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, along with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. The report listed a total of nearly $133,000 in spending for recent ads aired on Washington, D.C., broadcast stations and national cable networks.
Several other groups have made changes to their ads to avoid disclosing donors since the March ruling in Van Hollen v. FEC, brought by Rep. Christopher Van Hollen (D-Md.) and campaign reform groups. Groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, which have aired millions of dollars worth of political ads since March, have switched to “independent-expenditure” ads, which directly call for votes for or against candidates. This type of message was not affected by the court decision, meaning that ads supporting or opposing candidates now are subject to a lower disclosure threshold than ads that focus on issues and do not advocate for votes.
Referencing the recent shooting incidents in Colorado and Wisconsin, the ads by Mayors Against Illegal Guns featured victims wounded in the 2011 shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and more than a dozen others in Tucson, Ariz, and call on viewers to “demand a plan” from Obama and Romney to deal with gun violence. In a statement regarding the latest ad campaign, Bloomberg said: “Every day that goes by without action, 34 more people will be murdered with guns. The people who want to run this country need to tell us their plans to stop the bloodshed.”