A full year ahead of the next presidential election, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity has whipped out a $2.4-million ad campaign slamming President Obama's stimulus plan. The ads will air over the next two weeks in swing states Florida, Michigan, Virginia and New Mexico.
The ad campaign from the group, linked to the conservative Koch brothers, attacks Obama’s former support for the solar company Solyndra, which declared bankruptcy this year after receiving $528 million in government loans.
One ad starts with audio of Obama praising companies such as Solyndra as “the true engine of economic growth.” It ends by accusing the president of giving Solyndra preferential treatment because one of its shareholders was a major campaign fundraiser for him in the last presidential election.
“Risking billions of taxpayer dollars to help his political donors. Is this the change we are supposed to believe in?” says the ad, after flashing images of internal White House emails and newspaper headlines about the scandal.
The timing of the ad campaign coincides with plans by House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans to vote on issuing subpoenas for internal White House communications regarding Solyndra. Since September, the committee has been investigating whether the White House expedited the company’s loan and whether officials kept quiet about the company’s problems and gave them more money in hopes of fixing those problems.
Americans for Prosperity stirred up its own controversy this year when it sent Wisconsin absentee voters in Democratic districts a mailer with the wrong ballot due date for an August recall election. Voters were also advised to send their ballots to an “Absentee Ballot Application Processing Center” that did not exist instead of the address for their municipal clerk. The organization claimed the date mix-up was a printing accident.
The election, following Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s crackdown on collective bargaining rights for unions, had the potential to switch the state Congress majority from Republican to Democrat but, ultimately, did not.
Americans for Prosperity was founded by David Koch, who co-owns energy conglomerate Koch Industries with his brother Charles Koch. Both oppose regulation of greenhouse gases while supporting increased U.S. oil and gas development.