The news cycle has been filled with stories about the barrage of attack ads from new groups backed by wealthy donors and corporations, such as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Norm Coleman’s American Action Network. But many new organizations are formed on the local level and receive less attention for their misleading and business-backed ad campaigns. One of those new groups is the New Prosperity Foundation, a conservative organization that was formed in 2009 and is dedicated to electing Republicans in the Midwest.
A 527 organization, the New Prosperity Foundation received $50,000 from the Hunter Engineering Company, a car-parts company, $50,000 from right-wing activist Ethelmae Humphreys, $25,000 from Sam Fox (who previously financed Swift Boat Veterans for Truth), and $20,000 from the Illinois company FTC Services. The group is chaired by Gregory W. Baise, the head of the state’s Manufacturers’ lobby, and 2004 Bush Pioneer Ronald J. Gidwitz. The New Prosperity Foundation has spent over $300,000 in the Illinois Senate race alone.
While many organizations like the New Prosperity Foundation employ disingenuous and misleading charges in their ads, they don’t usually peddle flat-out and easily fact-checkable lies.
In its contrast ad criticizing Democrat Alexis Giannoulias, the group claims that while Giannoulias was “playing basketball” Mark Kirk was serving in Iraq. Although Kirk claimed he served in Iraq, in reality, he never did. In fact, Kirk lied about serving in Iraq in 2003 on the House Floor, saying, “The last time I was in Iraq, I was in uniform flying at 20,000 feet and the Iraqi Air Defense network was shooting at us.” Kirk also made false claims about his service in the Pentagon, Operation Desert Storm, and Kosovo, along with his time as a “teacher.” But for groups like the New Prosperity Foundation, airing factually accurate advertisements isn’t necessary when they have funding from a host of Bush pioneers and businesses to back them up.
Update: The New Prosperity Foundation has just taken down the ad, but here is the image when the narrator says: “When Mark Kirk was serving his country in Iraq, Alexi Giannoulias was serving his basketball team in Greece.”