A progressive super PAC has targeted Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., with a television ad that seems to suggest he paved the way for the outsourcing of 170 jobs in Freeport, Ill., in the northern part of the 17th Congressional District.
The ad is being paid for by the House Majority PAC, a year-and-a-half-old political action committee aimed at helping Democrats get back control of the House. The group said in a news release last week the ad will run in Peoria and Rockford, and an identical spot will run in the Quad-Cities in cooperation with the Service Employees International Union.
The ad accuses Schilling of pocketing money from special interests and voting for tax breaks that provide incentives to companies to send jobs overseas.
“Thanks to Congressman Schilling, doors are opening for workers in China while they’re closing here at home,” the ad’s narrator says as news clippings are shown describing the impending move of production work from Sensata Technologies to China.
The travails of the Sensata firm and its workers have figured prominently in the 17th District race.
The company plans to close out its auto sensor business in Freeport at the end of the year and send the work to China. That has caused to some of its workers to protest and to follow Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to draw attention to their plight at his campaign appearances. Bain Capital, the Romney-founded firm, bought Sensata but not until 2006, after he left the firm.
Democrat Cheri Bustos has embraced the cause of the workers, who have tried to get the company’s decision reversed. And some of those workers have targeted Schilling, too.
But Sensata’s purchase of the auto sensor unit from Honeywell was announced in October 2010 — before Schilling took office. And earlier this year, Sensata’s chief executive, Thomas Wroe Jr., sent a letter to Schilling and Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill., saying the reason the company was planning to consolidate operations overseas was to be closer to its customer base for this particular line of business.
Asked to respond to the ad, Jon Schweppe, a spokesman for Schilling, referred to a statement from the National Republican Congressional Committee that called the spot “false and negative.” Schweppe said the congressman had asked Sensata to change its mind and offered to meet with workers.
“Our position is we wish they would stay here,” he said.
Andy Stone, a spokesman for the House Majority PAC, said Schilling has voted for budgets that would give incentives for outsourcing.
“Sensata is an example of this, that’s going on in real time, and is front of mind for voters in the district. But the argument is, Bobby Schilling has supported policies that encourage shipping jobs overseas,” he said.
House Majority PAC receives funding from several labor unions and billionaire George Soros, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The Bustos and Schilling campaigns have been battling this year over whose policies are more to blame for outsourcing. They have sparred over a bill sponsored by congressional Democrats that would end tax subsidies for moving expenses for companies that move production out of the country, as well as provide the same kind of subsidy for companies that move operations back to the U.S.
Bustos supports the proposal, which congressional Republicans blocked from a vote this year. Schilling opposes it.
Republicans have said the incentives are minimal and are an election-year gimmick, not a serious proposal.
From Quad-City Times on October 3, 2012.