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July 28, 2006

Business group buys air time to thank Reichert

Posted by David Postman at 4:08 PM

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has bought air time over the next two weeks for an ad praising Congressman Dave Reichert's support of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, known as Part D. The chamber wouldn't talk about how much was spent on the ad buy. KING 5's director of sales and marketing, Ann Sobel, confirmed for me that the ads will run on her station from July 27 through Aug. 9.

Renee Sinclair, a Northwest regional official for the U.S. Chamber, said the ads will talk about Reichert's support for the prescription drug plan. In other parts of the country the chamber is running ads thanking members of Congress for their vote for the act in 2003. But Reichert wasn't elected until 2004, so the ad will be different. I haven't been able to get a copy of the ad yet.

"It's a thank you to Congressman Reichert," Sinclair said.

The 8th District, where Reichert faces a strong challenge from Democratic newcomer Darcy Burner, is the only Washington congressional race the U.S. Chamber has made an endorsement in. The group also endorsed Republican Mike McGavick in the Senate race.

Two years ago the chamber funded ads criticizing Democratic attorney general candidate Deborah Senn. The ads were sponsored by the Voters Education Committee, which through most of the campaign refused to say where its funding came from.

When the group did reveal its funding, all of it, $1.5 million, had come from the chamber. A King County Superior Court judge said the ads were "express advocacy" against Senn, not merely educational, and the Voters Education Committee was required to register as a political committee and report its donations. The case is on appeal to the state Supreme Court. The chamber is not a party to the suit. But it was criticized by local business groups for its anti-Senn ads. Not out of any disagreement about Senn, but because the locals felt blindsided by the chamber effort and embarrassed by the brouhahah over the attempt to keep the funding source secret.

No such issue this year. The chamber is not using any local group as a go-between. The ad will clearly state that the U.S. Chamber is paying for it and tells people to contact the chamber for more information.

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