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Donald Trump-aligned super PAC smears Tim Ryan with misleading anti-immigrant ad

The ad attacks the Democratic Ohio Senate candidate for supporting the same COVID-19 relief checks that Trump himself signed.

By Josh Israel - October 13, 2022
Tim Ryan
FILE—Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, speaks, May 3, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, JD Vance, founded a new charity called "Our Ohio Renewal" a day after the 2016 presidential election, promising to use it to help solve the scourge of opioid addiction, Vance's Senate rival, Democrat Ryan, has targeted "Our Ohio Renewal" as a failure. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

A pro-Donald Trump super PAC called Make America Great Again (MAGA) Inc. has launched a $1.3 million television ad campaign aimed at boosting Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance ahead of the November midterm election.

One of the group’s ads misleadingly accuses Vance’s Democratic opponent, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, of voting to do something Trump himself did just months earlier.

The MAGA Inc. effort is reportedly being operated by several former Trump appointees and campaign staffers, including former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell.

The ad, which Donald Trump Jr. tweeted on Friday, shows Ryan joking that he had to “suck up a little” to his “future boss” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. A narrator then accuses Ryan of voting “the liberal party line 100% of the time, giving stimulus checks to illegal immigrants, hitting middle-class families with tax hikes, creating sky-high inflation, driving our economy to the brink of recession.”

In the text on the screen, the spot claims Ryan backed “more than $4 billion to go to illegal immigrants.” In small letters, the ad cites as its source a March 23, 2021, post on the right-wing site Center Square about an estimate by the Center for Immigration Studies — a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-immigrant hate group — of how much money from the $1,400 pandemic relief checks in President Joe Biden’s 2021 American Rescue Plan might go to individuals who are living in the United States without legal permission.

There is no evidence that $4 billion in relief checks went to undocumented immigrants.

The American Rescue Plan Act explicitly barred relief payments to “any nonresident alien individual.” According to fact checks by USA Today and the Washington Post, this meant only those with a Social Security number would receive checks. Of those, the Post found, only a small fraction might have been noncitizens who had overstayed work visas.

Those same rules were also in place for pandemic relief checks sent out in 2020 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that Trump signed as president after it was approved by bipartisan majorities in a divided Congress.

That has not stopped Republicans from falsely attacking Democrats over the relief checks issued under Biden. In May 2021, Tennessee Sen. Bill Haggerty told Fox News that Democrats were using them “to lure people to risk their lives” by sneaking into the United States.

A provision in the June 2020 CARES Act that prevented some documented immigrant and citizen spouses and children in mixed-status families from getting the relief checks to which they were entitled was remedied in a December 2020 COVID-19 relief package at the urging of Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Thom Tillis (NC) and Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV).

A spokesperson for the MAGA Inc. super PAC did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

Immigration reform groups criticized the super PAC over the ad.

“The bottom line is that this attack from Republicans is not about policy,” Zachary Mueller, political director of the immigration reform group America’s Voice, said in an email. “It is just a racist zero-sum game to generate nativist anxieties ahead of a midterm election when Republicans are not putting forth any real solutions to combat inflation and want to distract from their extremism and anti-democratic activity.”

Mueller noted that MAGA Inc. is not the only GOP political action committee repeating the dishonest attack.

The Senate Leadership Fund super PAC and the dark money group One Nation are using the same line in ads against incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who is running for reelection in Georgia.

Billionaire Peter Thiel’s Saving Arizona PAC claims in an ad that Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, running for reelection in Arizona, supported Biden when he “wanted stimulus checks for illegal immigrants.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee has released ads, in both English and Spanish, accusing Democratic Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar of “backing stimulus checks for illegal immigrants.”

Rubio tweeted a spot in September claiming his Democratic opponent in his race for reelection, Florida Rep. Val Demings, “gave stimulus checks to illegal immigrants” — despite his own vote for the Trump-backed CARES Act and its relief checks.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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