Chamber of Commerce promoting Kratovil
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, under fire from President Barack Obama and the Democrats for allegedly using foreign money to influence next month's election, is on the air in Maryland with a substantial wallop of new advertising on behalf of freshman Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil.
The big business lobby dropped $168,841, according to Federal Election Commission records, on its buy on behalf of Kratovil in Maryland's First District, which spans the Chesapeake Bay to take in portions of Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Harford counties, plus the entire Eastern Shore.
Kratovil recently won the endorsement of the Chamber, which has now put its money behind his re-election run in one of the tightest House contests in the nation. The congressman from the Eastern Shore is being challenged by Republican state Sen. Andy Harris, a veteran lawmaker from Baltimore County.
The new advertising is part of a national buy of some $2 million by the Chamber on behalf of Blue Dog Democrats like Kratovil. Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, who gained national attention at a media adviser to Howard Dean's presidential campaign, produced the ads, according to FEC records.
The new ads would seem to undercut Democratic attempts to make an issue out of the Chamber's spending, which largely favors Republicans, or at least muddy the matter.
On Friday evening, House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who has worked hard to re-elect Kratovil, issued a broad-gauged attack that included these lines:
"This Fall, corporate special interests are trying to drown out the voices of the American people with a flood of negative advertising funded by shadowy front groups. These groups are taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that has enabled them to collect unlimited and undisclosed money from powerful, wealthy and sometimes foreign corporations – all without telling anyone where the money is coming from. The American people deserve to know exactly who is funding nasty attack ads and trying to sway their elections.
"...well-funded special interest groups like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and the Chamber of Commerce are pumping in millions of dollars, possibly from foreign interests and foreign governments, to try and overwhelm the voices of average Americans."
Our Tribune colleagues in the Washington bureau have more details on the national picture here.
Sharp-eyed readers of the Maryland Politics blog may have noticed that a reader named Mary first mentioned the Chamber ads in a comment posted just before 9 a.m. today.