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Archive for November 9th, 2011

“Buying A Voice”: Americans United for Change targets Cantor

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A recent Supreme Court decision has opened the floodgates for political advertising from third party groups.  It’s now much easier for groups to fill the airwaves with issue ads, designed to convey a message that sells a point of view.  We believe you deserve to know who is behind those ads, and in our “Buying A Voice” segment we plan to do just that.

This week we take  a look at who is behind a television ad that makes some pretty critical claims about congressman Eric Cantor‘s work in Washington.

The group is called “American’s United for Change“. They put out a particularly ominous ad targeting Congressman Cantor and the summer debate over the deadline to raise the debt ceiling.

The ad accuses Congressman Cantor of threatening senior citizens and military families by preventing the debt ceiling from being raised. It shows people getting out of limos and corporate jets and accuses Cantor of caring more about the wealthy. It ends with asking people to “Thank Eric Cantor” if your check doesn’t arrive.

So who are the American’s United for Change (AUC)? First off the group is a 501 c 4. That means they are officially “non-partisan”  and don’t have to publicly reveal their donor list.  So we had to do some digging.

We learned that AUC is heavily connected to democratic interests.  Interests that are not very supportive of Congressman Cantor.  The liberal MoveOn.org gave the organization $300 thousand  and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, a union group that generally supports democrats gave $50 thousand.

But the cash is one thing, AUC also has human capital that appears to be traded regularly with strictly democratic causes. Their current executive director is Tom McMahon used to work for the Democratic National Committee. Their former president, Brad Woodhouse now works for the DNC as their communications director.

So its clear, that while Americans United for Change is concerned about things like health care and social security. Their donor base is filled political  interests that would like to see Congressman Cantor removed from office.

You can see our report on NBC12.com.  

Here is where we got our information:

FactCheck.org explains Americans United for Change’s 501-c4 status.

OpenSecrets.org lists Move.org’s list of donors.

OpenSecrets.org lists the National Air Traffic Controller’s Association’s top donations.

Politico reports on McMahon and Woodhouse swapping jobs.

Written by Ryan Nobles

November 9, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Democrats and Republicans claim key victories in 2011 elections

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

Off-year elections are not supposed to be this exciting.  The polls have been closed in Virginia for almost 12 hours and we still aren’t 100% sure which party is in control of the Virginia Senate.  Election night was a tense and dramatic affair with both parties claiming victory.

Democratic Victories:

Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney- The win by upstart Shannon Taylor was improbable. She was immensely outspent, got as late a start as any candidate on the ballot could have and was running against a historically dominant Republican machine.  It is a victory that will resonate beyond Central Virginia to the rest of the state and should even get a small amount of national attention because it was a blow to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor‘s power base in his home district.  Republicans will argue that Taylor benefited greatly by Matt Geary‘s refusal to exit the race and the results are an anomaly that won’t tell us anything about 2012.  That is true, but Taylor’s victory cannot be understated given that she toppled Del. Bill Janis, a man who gave up a very powerful position in the House of Delegates to run for CA.

Held off Senate losses- Conventional wisdom was that democrats were headed to a very difficult night. Worst case scenarios had them losing 10 seats or more in the House of Delegates and 4 seats and control of the Virginia Senate. It looks like the outcome will not be that bad, and at the very least the republican agenda will be forced to get democratic support to pass through the committee process.

Republican Victories:

They hold more seats in the General Assembly- Regardless of how you read the numbers there is one inescapable fact from the 2011 results. The GOP now holds more seats in the House and the Senate than they did before election day.  While Governor Bob McDonnell has not been handed a clear majority in the Senate to push through his agenda, he has at least one additional vote that he didn’t before. That will make it much easier for him to pass legislation that will resonate beyond his time in office.

Powerful, vocal democratic leaders lose-  If the results all hold democrats could lose two of their most influential voices in the General Assembly.  Most notably, Del. Ward Armstrong the one time leader of the democratic caucus in the House of Delegates and a would be statewide candidate. Armstrong was re-redistricted into a match-up with incumbent Charles Poindexter in a GOP heavy district. He ran a campaign as far away from the democratic base as he could, but it was not enough. Unless he still has visions of a statewide run, his political career could be over.  In the race that is still in doubt, Sen. Edd Houck a longtime democratic stalwart and foil to republican governors could be gone. Houck is the third most powerful member of the democratic senate and a strong voice on the joint money committees.  He understands the nitty-gritty of the state budget and his experience would be a huge loss for democrats when it comes to budget time.

I joined the NBC12 morning team for a look at the results. You can see our discussion below: