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America, Inc., Super PAC Throws Last-Minute Funds at Minnesota's Sixth District Race

From left, Joe Perske (DFL), John Denney (I) and Tom Emmer (R)

From left, Joe Perske (DFL), John Denney (I) and Tom Emmer (R)

America, Inc., a Virginia-based Super PAC, has spent twice as much money to defeat Independence Party candidate John Denney than Denney has on hand.

A review of FEC reports of independent expenditures in Minnesota's sixth congressional district race shows that the group dropped $8,000 in early October on "Online/Digital Ads & Production" against Denney. Then last Friday, it dropped another $1,250 for the same purpose.

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Headed by conservative author David Bozell, America, Inc., defines itself in the typical Tea Party rhetoric: "personal freedom, personal responsibility, a commitment to Judeo-Christian values, and a strong national defense." The Super PAC has gone after candidates on both sides of the aisle, but tends to throw its support behind Republicans who share at least one thing in common: a revulsion to same-sex marriage and abortion.

The Super PAC has not spent a dime attacking the district's DFL candidate, Joe Perske, suggesting that he's not much of a threat to conservatives in Michele Bachmann's old district. The same cannot be said of Denney. As the Star Tribune noted last week, Denney, though sympathetic to smaller government, is "running hard on issues dear to liberals, such as college debt, drug law reform and a Congress less beholden to moneyed interests."

Last month, the New York Times reported that more than half of the general election advertising coming from outside groups was either not disclosed or only partially so (which is their right by law). Much of it benefits Republicans while shielding wealthy donors and corporations.

In addition to the $9,250 spent against Denney, America, Inc., has spent $3,750 in support of former Republican state representative Tom Emmer, who's favored to win. It's unclear where that money came from and, odder still, unclear where it went: despite the FEC report, we were unable to find a single American, Inc., ad mentioning Denney's name. (Denney's campaign can't point to one, either, and a message left with the Super PAC's public relations company was not returned Monday.)

"At a minimum, all three candidates ought to denounce this group, including Tom Emmer," says Richard Painter, a U of M professor and Republican who's writing a book at Harvard about campaign finance reform. "This is a serious problem, and what it boils down to is, who's going to decide who represents the people of Minnesota?"

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