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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Americans for Prosperity — one of the largest recipients of donations from the Koch Family Foundation — has been hammering Democratic senators in swing states with millions of dollars in television ads. But last week the group suddenly pulled $100,000 in ads slated to run in Alaska.

Why?

Democrats from Alaska offered 10 reasons. But Max Croes, spokesman for the re-election campaign of Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), believes it has to do with an oil refinery that Koch Industries is closing in North Pole, Alaska.

“I guess it took two weeks for the billionaire Koch brothers to finally realize Alaskans don’t appreciate them firing 80 Alaska workers and closing a refinery while at the same time funneling over $100,000 to outside political attack groups for misleading ads against Senator Begich,” Croes said. “Alaskans just aren’t going to buy what they’re selling.”

The ad first attracted attention for its noticeably un-Alaskan look and its star, an actress from MarylandAFP is also using actors in the Obamacare ad targeting Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

The use of paid “talent” is pretty standard for political ads, but when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, the right seems to be having a hard time finding real people to give testimony on how the law has hurt them.

In the Republican response to the State of the Union address, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), referenced “Bette,” a constituent who “found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month.”  The congressmember’s local paper did a little digging and found that Bette had been misled by an insurance provider and decided to forgo coverage instead of using the health care exchange to find a much more affordable option. Rather than help this woman, McMorris Rodgers used her unsubstantiated anecdote to argue against the law.

That’s the great thing about actors — their stories can’t be fact checked.

Republicans have been playing up the fact that Koch Industries is only 59th on a list of top donors. This doesn’t include the donations that the brothers and their foundation give to Americans for Prosperity, which will never be known for sure, as the group is a “non-profit” that does not have to disclose its donors.

What’s clear is that no group is doing more to try to help Republicans take over the Senate than AFP, and the Kochs’ power comes not only from its vast network of organizations that it funds, but also from the way it coordinates its activity with other huge donors.

Despite this, their money was spectacularly wasted in 2012. And their business practices are interfering with their effort to pick up a Senate seat in Alaska.

Photo: Americans for Prosperity’s YouTube channel

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