Democratic Super PAC starts reserving time for Connecticut TV ads

July 1, 2014

By Mary E. O’Leary

HARTFORD >> Summer has just begun, but a federal Democratic Super PAC already has spent big bucks to reserve time for television issue ads in Connecticut.

It is not a complete picture, but the House Majority PAC, which was first formed in 2011, has booked $467,478 in time slots throughout the month of October on the major Connecticut television stations leading up to the Nov. 4 election.

The House Majority PAC, according to its website, was formed in April 2011 “to answer the barrage of GOP outside spending and ensure that never again would groups funded by Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and the like be able to drown out Democratic candidates.”

At that time, it said it helped make Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan a central issue in a New York district race, while also working in former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords’ district in Arizona.

In 2012, it said it coordinated with other progressive groups to elect Democrats to the House, spending $36 million in the 2012 cycle. The Super PAC said it won in 63 percent of races in which it invested heavily and won 8 of the 10 House races where it spent the most money.

Changes in campaign finance laws now require as of July 1 that all stations post political ad purchases on the Internet, not just those with the biggest market share.

Many of the House Majority PAC ads are being developed by Waterfront Strategies out of Washington, D.C.

WFSB, Channel 3, has been booked for $280,159 in ads throughout October by the House Majority PAC; WTIC, Fox, has $68,872 in booked ads and WVIT, NBC, has $118,447 in ads.

There are hundreds of 30-second ads booked ranging up to $8,000 for a time slot during the crime show “NCIS.”

The toughest congressional race in Connecticut is expected to be the repeat contest between Democrat U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Republican Mark Greenberg in the 5th District.

The Sunlight Foundation is compiling the material under its Political Ad Sleuth tool.

The House Majority PAC has raised an estimated $15.2 million in 2014 so far, according to Open

“Starting today, every television broadcast station is required to post its political file online. For the first time, people in communities across the country will have online access to documents detailing who is buying campaign commercials on their local station and how much money they’re spending to influence voters. Prior to today, these files were available only if you went in person to the station and requested to view the paper copies,” Jenn Topper, communications manager for the site, said in an email.

A total of 2,000 stations across the country will be participating, up from 230 when the 50 largest TV markets began online posting two years ago, Topper said.

 So far, Tom Foley, the Republican nominee for governor, who is in a primary race with state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, has booked $7,161 on WTIC for 30 spots aimed at men during the week of Aug. 7-13, according to the contract posted online. The primary is Aug. 12.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is seeking re-election and has no primary opponent.

 Besides spending by the campaigns themselves, the state Republican and Democratic parties will be weighing in, as will independent issue committees.

 Topper said the Sunlight Foundation has made it possible to search and sort the stations political files by advertiser, date and state.