RNC misleading local stations

Published March 8, 2004 9:52PM (EST)

MoveOn.org's anti-Bush ads, which began last Thursday, were timed to counteract the president's own $4.5 million ad blitz that began late last week. MoveOn.org initially spent $1.9 million on the ad buy, and planned to spend another $1 million. But the Republican National Committee is apparently doing what it can to make sure only one side is heard.

CNN reported on Sunday that "the Republican National Committee is warning television stations across the country not to run ads from the MoveOn.org Voter Fund that criticize President Bush, charging that the left-leaning political group is paying for them with money raised in violation of the new campaign-finance law. 'As a broadcaster licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, you have a responsibility to the viewing public, and to your licensing agency, to refrain from complicity in any illegal activity,' said the RNC's chief counsel, Jill Holtzman Vogel, in a letter sent to about 250 stations Friday. 'Now that you have been apprised of the law, to prevent further violations of federal law, we urge you to remove these advertisements from your station's broadcast rotation.'"

In response, MoveOn.org's lawyer, Joseph Sandler, said in a statement that the ads were funded legally, calling the RNC's letter "a complete misrepresentation of the law." "The federal campaign laws have permitted precisely this use of money for advertising for the past 25 years," he said.

Here's the RNC statement on MoveOn.org's "recent activities," which along with indicting MoveOn's ad campaign as illicit, also casts suspicion on the group's involvement with a 9/11 family organization that opposes the Bush ads. Likeminded groups working together is not, as the RNC statement admits, illegal.

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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