(CNN) - Barack Obama’s campaign is condemning a pro-Hillary Clinton group airing television ads on her behalf in key upcoming contests, sending out a statement that compares the effort to the controversial “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” organization – a characterization an organizer of the group calls “heavy-handed and hypocritical.”
“The America(n) Leadership Project is organized on the same model as Swift Boats Veterans for Truth and other ‘527s’ operating outside the financing limits of federal campaign finance law,” the Obama campaign said in a memo sent to reporters Wednesday afternoon.
ALP, which includes veterans of the Clinton administration and longtime supporters, is a “527” group, which means it is not bound by federal campaign finance laws as long as it does not directly advocate on behalf of a particular candidate.
In 2004, the Swift Boat Vets targeted Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
Jason Kinney, the chairman of ALP, immediately fired back, saying the Obama campaign of “shooting in the dark.”
“We intend to be open and transparent and make all disclosures. Their memo is more than a little heavy-handed and hypocritical on its face,” said Kinney, a former adviser to ex-California Gov. Gray Davis.
He said the group’s donors and budget – as well as much of its planned activity, which will extend beyond the ads that have already been created – will be revealed when the ads themselves begin to air in Ohio and Texas, perhaps as soon as this weekend. Several key voting blocs may be targeted, but the overwhelming emphasis will be middle-class voters worried about the state of the economy and the health care system.
“You didn’t see these kinds of scare tactics every time a 527 came out in support of Barack Obama. It’s kind of a silly response - but this is the silly season,” said Kinney, who added that the group only began to organize within the past several weeks, and was only legally created last Friday.
The first ALP ad, which debuted online Wednesday, does not mention Obama by name - but it praises Clinton heavily, and seems to echo a criticism she has often leveled at the Illinois senator: that he is more focused on words than action.
“If speeches could create jobs, we wouldn’t be facing a recession,” says the announcer in the 30-second spot, which focuses on economic issues. “But it takes more.”
The ad praises Clinton for her efforts to create jobs and prevent outsourcing.
Kinney confirmed that the group – which was first reported on by the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder and ABC's Jake Tapper – includes former Clinton White House staffer and Kerry campaign senior adviser Paul Rivera; former Chuck Schumer and Wesley Clark campaign staffer Erick Mullen; Democratic ad guru Mattis Goldman; and Roger Salazar, a former spokesman in the Clinton White House and for the presidential campaigns of Al Gore in 2000 and John Edwards in 2004, who is acting as the group’s spokesman.