McConnell-tied super PAC ads present same person as outraged Nevadan and Georgian

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The Senate Leadership Fund did not even bother to get a different person to attack Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock and Catherine Cortez Masto.

The Senate Leadership Fund super PAC, aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is running ads against Democratic incumbent senators in Georgia and Nevada in which the same person is presented as an angry constituent, attacking Sen. Raphael Warnock and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in their respective states for voting for the 2021 American Rescue Plan.

Warnock is running for reelection against Republican nominee Herschel Walker, a former professional football player; Cortez Masto is facing a challenge from Republican former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt. The Senate Leadership Fund has spent tens of millions of dollars to elect the GOP nominees in both races; polling shows both are close.

On Oct. 5, the PAC released a 30-second ad featuring a person identified on the screen as "Jennifer" from Madison, Georgia. Standing in a kitchen, Jennifer says:

Especially with crime running rampant, Raphael Warnock made the wrong choice for who to help. Warnock voted for a bill that sent COVID relief checks — our tax dollars — to convicted criminals in prison and billions more in reckless spending that we pay for. Now Warnock votes with Biden and Pelosi for higher taxes on families like mine? Raphael Warnock: He chose helping felons over Georgia families.

The ad does not provide sources for its claims about Warnock.

On Oct. 25, the group released another spot hitting Warnock for his vote for the American Rescue Plan, showing the same person in the same kitchen — this time wearing a ski helmet with goggles and holding a bag. "Georgia doesn't need a ski resort in Iowa," the woman tells viewers. "We need affordable groceries."

That spot was nearly identical to an Oct. 18 ad against Cortez Masto. In that spot, the dialogue is changed only slightly to take out the reference to Georgia, and the woman says: "We don't need a ski resort in Iowa. We need affordable groceries."

The law in question, President Joe Biden's 2021 pandemic relief package, included $1,400 relief checks for most Americans. Some of those checks went to incarcerated Americans, many of whom were serving time for low-level and nonviolent offenses and have dependent families who needed the money. Some of the payments were garnished to help pay restitution to victims.

Congress passed a similar relief bill on a 96-0 vote in 2020, signed by then-President Donald Trump. The bill provided $1,200 relief payments with Trump's name printed on the checks to Americans, some of whom were in jail.

Even before the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August, Republicans and the Senate Leadership Fund have been spreading the false claim that that bill raised taxes for families. The law did not raise taxes for anyone making under $400,000 annually, but that has not stopped the Senate Leadership Fund from repeating the lie in several ads.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee and One Nation, a dark money group with close ties to the Senate Leadership Fund, have also previously run dishonest ads claiming that the Democratic lawmakers who backed the American Rescue Plan voted for a ski resort in Iowa. In reality, the legislation provided $350 billion in direct relief grants to states, localities, territories, and tribal governments across the country to spend on what they considered their greatest needs.

The board of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, whose members are all Republicans, voted to use $2 million, a tiny fraction of a percent of the total grants provided nationally, to take over the Mt. Crescent Ski Area, which it deemed essential to promoting local tourism.

"Every second and frame of these Republican ads are false," Nora Keefe, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told the American Independent Foundation, "from the words on the screen to dishonestly using the same woman as their mouthpiece in Nevada and Georgia."

Contrary to the ads' claims, experts say that the American Rescue Plan was not the principal driver of increased prices for groceries or other items. Rather, they say, most of the recent inflation can be attributed to global supply chain challenges, the pandemic, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Senate Leadership Fund claims to be independent from any political candidate or candidate campaign committee. But in an Oct. 11 CNN interview, McConnell acknowledged that he was working with the PAC.

According to OpenSecrets, the super PAC has already spent about $33 million against Warnock in Georgia, despite numerous allegations of domestic abuse against Walker. It has also spent over $22 million to back Laxalt, a vocal election denier, over Cortez Masto.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.