April 16th, 2008
05:30 PM ET
14 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. Grif

    The Power of the Press! I wonder how much Conflict, I can create over the 20 minutes? Bitterness, Emotions running wild?

    April 16, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  2. Obama BOMBS in DEbate!

    Once again, it is very applarent who has a handle on the issues. Barack is bumbling! I think the only lines he has are about "faith" and "hope"....

    April 16, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  3. jacquelyn george

    Oh my god, are you guys watching the sham of a debate on abc? Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolous should be fired ! what a joke!! go to their site and read the comments.... americans are pissed about this disgusting sham

    April 16, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  4. KE

    Anti-Hillary sentiment in democratic party (and the republican party and the media) is similar to anti-America sentiment. Math don't match.

    Go, Hillary!

    National poll seens to reflect media coverage on the candidates. In real world almost majority have so far voted for Hillary where media world 95% favorite for Obama and 5% for Hillary. Math don't match.

    Go, Pennsylvania.

    April 16, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  5. No Republicans in Whitehouse

    This administration, led by Republicans, has been the worse offenders of American integrity in all of American history. The Constitution means nothing, if it gets in the way of Republican power.

    April 16, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
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