[News] Dark money group spends $200, 000 on ads opposing Puerto Rico debt relief bill

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Apr 8 10:59:40 EDT 2016


*http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2016/04/06/dark-money-group-spends-200000-on-ads-opposing-puerto-rico-debt-bill/*
*
Dark money group spends $200,000 on ads opposing Puerto Rico debt relief 
bill*

by Josh Stewart
April 6, 2016

According to Sunlight Foundation’s Political Ad Sleuth tool, a 501(c)(4) 
dark money group called the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) has 
purchased at least $200,000 in ads in the Washington, D.C., market, an 
attempt to influence lawmakers crafting economic legislation to assist 
Puerto Rico's dire financial situation. The territory is currently 
struggling under enormous debt obligations and is seeking help from 
Congress and the federal government.

On March 29, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural 
Resources Committee, released a discussion draft of legislation aimed at 
helping Puerto Rico deal with its debt crisis. Bishop stated the draft 
legislation “provides Puerto Rico with tools to impose discipline over 
its finances, meet its obligations and restore confidence in its 
institutions.”

According to its website, CFIF’s mission is “to protect and defend 
individual freedoms and individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. 
Constitution.” In a press release, CFIF says it opposes the draft 
legislation and plans to run a national ad campaign opposing what it 
calls “Super Chapter 9” bankruptcy. We don’t know how much is also being 
spent on Internet ads or on cable, satellite and radio advertisements.

Because CFIF is a dark money group that is not required to disclose its 
donors, we also don't know who is funding the ad buys. According to 
Internal Revenue Service documents obtained by OpenSecrets, Crossroads 
GPS — another dark money group tied to Karl Rove — gave almost $5 
million to CFIF since 2011.

A review of nine different contracts shows ads will air on Fox, NBC, ABC 
and CBS affiliates in the D.C. area. The biggest buy is on WRC, an NBC 
affiliate, where ads will run on the local news as well as during the 
Sunday, April 10, episode of "Meet the Press."

The draft legislation is opposed by financial sector interests who are 
seeking to protect their investment in Puerto Rico's debt. According to 
The New York Times, a restructuring of the territory's debt could risk 
billions for some the wealthiest investors around the country. Many of 
these individuals are big donors to both parties, too. According to the 
Times:

A coalition of hedge funds and financial firms has hired dozens of 
lobbyists, forged alliances with Tea Party activists and recruited 
so-called AstroTurf groups on the island to make their case. This 
approach ... has proved successful overseas, in countries like Argentina 
and Greece, yielding billions in profit amid economic collapse.

The bill is already dividing both Republicans and Democrats, with 
Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., issuing a positive statement about the draft, 
calling it “comprehensive.” At the same time, however, conservatives in 
the House have started to pick apart the language of the draft.

This is not the first time a dark money group has tried to influence 
policy around Puerto Rico’s finances. According to a 2014 report from 
Politico, the American Future Fund — a 501(c)(4) with ties to the Koch 
brothers — placed ads in “Wall Street Journal and POLITICO attacking 
Puerto Rico Gov. Garcia Padilla.”

According to lobbying data from OpenSecrets, in 2015 Puerto Rico spent 
$1.8 million paying 23 lobbyists to make their case to members of 
Congress on variety of issues, though only two bills were listed on 
disclosure forms. One was a health care bill related to U.S. 
territories, and the other was the Puerto Rico Chapter 9 Uniformity Act 
of 2015.

-- 
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