April 16th, 2008
05:30 PM ET
10 years ago

Democrats accuse Republicans of illegal campaign activity

(CNN) - The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is accusing the House Republicans’ campaign committee of illegally coordinating advertising with an outside group in a competitive Louisiana special election.

The DCCC, which works to elect House Democrats, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission Wednesday arguing there’s evidence The National Republican Congressional Committee was involved in a TV script for an ad by the conservative group Freedom' s Watch. According to campaign finance laws, it is illegal for party committees to coordinate with outside groups within 90 days of a federal election.

The ad says that Democratic candidate Don Cazayoux will raise taxes if elected. Democrats say the document for the ad script sent to Louisiana television stations includes a stamp, referred to as "metadata," that shows “NRCC.”

Democrats argue that Freedom's Watch launched the TV ad right after the NRCC finished a week-long run of an ad with similar images of Cazayoux.

"Tom Cole (R-OK and NRCC Chairman) may have gotten his wish when Freedom's Watch came to the NRCC's rescue, but breaking the law will be the NRCC's worst nightmare. Freedom's Watch own Word document clearly shows the script for their ad came from the NRCC – that's clearly illegal, said Brian Wolff, Executive Director of the DCCC.

Ed Patru, spokesman for Freedom's Watch, dismissed the charge as a "sensational theory that falls apart once you hear the rest of the story."

A source with direct knowledge of the Freedom’s Watch Louisiana ad campaign said the consultant hired to create the ad also did work in the last election cycle for the NRCC. The consultant pulled up an old Microsoft Word document and typed the script of the new ad on it. When he saved the script to send to the stations, the old stamp appeared with the NRCC name on it.

NRCC Communications Director Karen Hanretty told CNN that there's no conclusive evidence showing the campaign committee coordinated with Freedom's Watch. She said that the NRCC ad went up first and publicized it heavily so anyone could use images from the ad.

Patru said "there's certainly nothing illegal about saving an old word document and typing over it." He added, "I find it difficult to imagine that anybody at the FEC takes this seriously."

Filed under: Congress • Political ads
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. kathleen retired Professional w/woman for obama

    I'm afraid the millionaires and billionaires on the Republican side
    have far worse ads coming the Democrats way. The Republicans
    are ruthless in their campaigning. That is why they always win.
    Not this time, I hope. God Bless our Country and save it from the
    Republican Savages.

    April 16, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  2. H.M.

    And who can be shocked at this? The Reichpublicans have been able to get away with most everything in the last seven years. They've been blatantly wiping their collective @sses with the Constitution and the Justice Department. They just haven't figured out yet that a new sheriff's coming to town. And maybe... just maybe some of 'em will "swing" for their traitorous misdeeds. I hope Obama puts a hardcore prosecutor in the Attorney Generals office. The only way to get our legitimacy back is to nail all the criminals in this current Administration.

    April 16, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Stan, MD

    Bring it on GOP, we're ready for your dirty politics. You've stolen one election, but not this one. The eyes of the world are watching you.

    Obama 08

    April 16, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. gerard morei

    Today, like any other day CNN proves to be pro Obama, I post several comments, specially when some Obama fans insult my religion, I'm a Proud Catholic. Cnn not only did not post my comment, they eraser that blog.because most of the people came in defense of the Catholics and in defense of Hillary Clinton. Cnn is so Bias, where is the sense of being fair with all the supporters. Somebody said yesterday that the person who does the moderation is an Obama supporter. I agree. No More Cnn for me.
    Hillary for President 2009!!!!

    April 16, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  5. Willy

    And the democrats are as pure as driven snow. Yeah right!

    April 16, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  6. MJ



    April 16, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  7. MJ



    April 16, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  8. Tejano

    How about moveon.org doing the Democrats dirty work. The kettle calling the pot black.

    April 16, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  9. Retired Navy Veteran

    So did bob and jack make $ 20 million?

    April 16, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  10. Middle-aged American

    Oh those silly republicans! OOPS! I did it again!

    April 16, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  11. Wallace

    The Republicans are doing the same old crooked stunts again. DNC don't let them get away with it. Stick to your plan DNC. Don't back down. Take it to the people.

    April 16, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  12. Peter Paul

    I don’t want to bust any bubbles but Barack Obama will be the democratic nominee
    I do think he is the best person to be President as well because of his issues that he wants to make better for America and I will get to those in one second.

    This is for the McCain potential voters:
    When McCain first heard about the housing crisis he had a Bush like answer, well you did it, your on your own, in other words to bad.
    Weeks later his camp realizes that he can’t win the election with this type of attitude.
    He now tells people that he will help certain people who he feels worthy of some sort of relief. This is a pretty good flip flop from his true views let me tell you.
    Fighting war does not make you entitled to be President nor does taking money from lobbyists and being part of a very rich family.
    I know our history has told us otherwise but as you can see America is not at it’s finest right now.
    Anybody who is a democrat who votes for McCain, McInsane or McBush, pick one of your pet names, will be making a fundamental mistake.
    Let’s look at what a President McCain would look like shale we.
    1) More war in Iraq that kills thousands of people on both sides and Billions of our tax dollars going away with no real end to this war according to the government and creating a larger deficit.
    2) Keeping a tax cut for the top 1% of the rich, that makes good sense, not!
    3) He is for Free trade agreement like NAFTA which will ship your jobs somewhere
    just not here in America.
    Is this what you really want?

    Now for Obama:
    1) He will end this war in Iraq and save thousands of lives and our money which is a distant second over human life.
    2) Give us a plane for more affordable heath care.
    3) Help build a better structure for our educational system for our future leaders, doctors, teacher’s ect.
    4) Better pay for not just our teachers which is important but for the average Joe like me.
    5) Not letting lobbyist and special interest run his administration for the people.
    6) Help lower the poverty % as a agenda through his term, which is very challenging and important.
    I know there is more to this list that he wants to accomplish but this is a blog entry.
    I know he may not accomplish all of these goals in his first term but this is the right direction.
    Is this who you want to be President?
    I hope the answer is YES!!

    If what Barack Obama’s vision of the above is not what we want, then we deserve what we get, Bush anyone!
    Obama for the next President to the United States Of America!!!

    April 16, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  13. The Penguin

    On another note:

    Howard Wolfson is a wolf, or should I say a penguin. He calls the nets early in the morning and gives this litany of reasons not to vote for Obama. When the anchors ask him about Hillary, he just ignores them, and continues to trash Barack.

    I've seen him talking before and he barely opens his mouth, like a gangster. He literally talks out of the side of his mouth, which garbles his words. He sounds like Burgess Meredith, the Penguin on Batman. Where did Hillary get him from, the mafia?

    Obama 08

    April 16, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  14. Pam.

    I posted a comment, CNN will only post Clinton haters, i guess my post was not posted.

    April 16, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  15. Pam.

    Hillary Clinton has released her income tax records, and the first detail to come spilling out is the fact that she’s a lot more charitable than Barack Obama:
    The average American gives about 3.1% of his/her income to charity annually. So Obama, up until he decided to run for national office, contributed far less than the national average. Hillary, however, gave a great deal more than the national average on a regular basis, over 10%

    April 16, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  16. clara

    every time i come on to see whats going on and to have a comment u all have closed it why don't u all have the comments up longer

    April 16, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  17. clara

    that wouldn't supprise me the way things are going with oboma i wish he would quit just drop out

    April 16, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  18. Brian

    The white male protestant party is dirty thats why they wont ever nominate a minority as president or vice president.

    April 16, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  19. john williams san diego, ca.

    SIGH...Democrats, i'm not happy with McCain but then you offer up a pathological liar...incoming..

    April 16, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  20. Barbara in NC

    Geez – Sounds like Bill and Hillary really ARE for the republicans – at least with this one !!!! Liar Liar Sniper didn't fire. Blue Dress – ETC – Now McBush pulling the same shifty stuff?

    April 16, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  21. AA For Change

    Howard Dean,

    Should have a sit down with George Soros... Cmon..moveon.dean

    April 16, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  22. JW

    Hillary 08

    April 16, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  23. Arrthur Elmer

    The republicans get by most of time doing things illegal. They own the newpapers, they are the richest people in America and can buy silence if they need to and seem to get by with the most of the illegal campaign activities.
    Look how long it has taken to investigate the DeLay scandal, they are still working on the guy who was buying Ney, DeLay, and several other congress persons and some whitehouse aids.
    They are still not doing much with the senator from Alaska who got his home remodeled and the man who footed the bill said he paid for the remodeling and stevens, I believe is his name is still in congress.

    April 16, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  24. Stewart, VA

    I'm shocked, shocked that corruption and scandal is going on in Washington, D.C. Not the Republicans, what a surprise.

    Change is on the way.
    Obama 08

    April 16, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  25. Robert

    What is the federal election within 90 days?

    April 16, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
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