The 2014 ad war is on, with billionaires in both parties taking aim at each other in competing advertisements up in swing states.
In a new ad released Monday, the Koch network is pushing back against its Democratic critics, chief among them Harry Reid, and one of his billionaire backers.
The ad, “Steyer Infection,” juxtaposes Harry Reid’s denunciation of the Koch brothers with a narrative about Reid’s relationship with billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and his brother Jim, who runs a ratings service for children’s products.
“This is about two very wealthy brothers who intend to buy their own Congress,” it shows Reid saying in a speech earlier this month on the Senate floor. “You see when you make billions of dollars a year, you can be I guess as immoral and dishonest as your money will allow you to be.”
The narrator says, “Billionaires like Tom Steyer, who just hosted Reid and other Senate Democrats at his San Francisco mansion? Steyer has a history of ‘environmentally destructive business ventures.’ And he wants regulators to strangle energy opportunities here in America, even though he helped finance the second-largest coal company in Indonesia.”
The ad is paid for by American Commitment, a 501(c)(4) group that is part of the larger Koch nonprofit network. ”The hypocrisy of Harry Reid disparaging successful Americans on the floor of the U.S. Senate, while he helps Democratic senators collect campaign contributions from shadowy, dirty energy billionaires is astonishing,” said the group’s president, Phil Kerpen. “If Harry Reid believes anything he says, he should stand up to the Steyer brothers and help the American people by supporting the Keystone pipeline and opposing new energy taxes that only benefit special interests.”
Jim Steyer has welcomed comparisons to Charles and David Koch, the libertarian billionaires who run the nation’s second-largest privately held company, Koch Industries. “I take that as a compliment,” he told Politico last month.
The ad is running online only and is being pushed particularly in Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, and North Carolina, where the liberal Senate Majority PAC — funded in part by billionaire former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg – has ads up slamming “out-of-state billionaires” and the ”corporate and special interests” it says are trying to buy the election.