Conservative group targets Rep. George Miller with ads

An Iowa-based conservative group called the American Future Fund has spent $200,000 on a television ad plus more on two mailers targeting Democratic Rep. George Miller of Martinez.

The mailers began arriving in mailboxes in Miller’s district Wednesday (including mine) and the ad starting airing yesterday, as well. (See link to YouTube below.)

What is the American Future Fund and why would they spend $200,000 in Miller’s heavily Democratic district? It seems like a strange place to dump this kind of money.

According to various news accounts, the American Future Fund is technically a 501c(4) charity run by several well-known Republican strategists. Its web site says it promotes conservative, free market principles. It has spent scads of money on ads around the country in recent months, primarily targeting Democratic senators such as Mark Udall of Colorado for his views on oil-drilling.

The anti-Miller effort appears to be part of a larger nationwide campaign by business interests to defeat a controversial labor-related measure called the Employee Free Choice Act.

Miller is chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and a key sponsor of the act. It passed the House in March 2007 but failed to win enough votes in the U.S. Senate to withstand a filibuster. Most expect this bill to resurface in the next Congress, especially if Democratic nominee Barack Obama wins the presidency next week.

While the Miller mailer focuses on $4.6 million in earmarks the congressman obtained for a local business, SecuriMetrics, that also contributed $16,090 to the legislator’s campaign committees, the TV ad says he supports the Employee Free Choice Act because he has accepted more than $1 million from labor unions.

The bill would add a second method by which employees could form a union. Under the current system, if 30 percent of the workforce petitions its employer for a union, the employer must hold an election and all the votes are taken in a secret ballot. The act states that if a majority of the workers sign a statement seeking a union, the union can be adopted and there is no secret ballot election.

Ironically, the American Future Fund accuses Miller of being in the pocket of corporate interests but no one knows where the fund gets its money.

A loophole in campaign finance law permits 501c(4) charities to spend money on “electioneering communications” without disclosing the names of the donors as long as political activity is not its major function.

Here’s the ad:

Lisa Vorderbrueggen