An ominous and even more extreme tilt to the right in the Republican primary race for attorney general: A shadowy outside group is touting David Sterling for his advocacy of adoption of a “stand your ground” (kill the witness) law in Arkansas.
Sterling, a Religious Right lawyer (who despite his professed religiosity has done some legal work for a racy underwear shop that sells skin flicks on-line), opposes Leslie Rutledge in the Republican primary. She’s a pistol-packing conservative who’s as far right on issues such as abortion, Obamacare and the rest as Sterling is. And she has some GOP establishment credentials through work for Mike Huckabee and the Republican National Committee.
She’s raised about $200,000 so far. He’s raised about $175,000.
But now he’s benefitting from a big ad buy by the American Future Fund. It is one of those 501C4 organization.s It doesn’t expressly advocate election of David Sterling. Thus it is free from the sort of disclosure of contributors and expenditures required of regular campaign advertising. But make no mistake, This ad buy (and I’ve heard of phone calls, too) are an endorsement of Sterling for his support of a Stand Your Ground law (and mentions his anti-abortion position, too.
The fund is a multistate group that backs “conservative” and “free market” candidacies with such advertising support. It’s based in Des Moines and issued this release on the Sterling ad:
Nick Ryan, Founder of the American Future Fund, said: “David Sterling has been a consistent, conservative leader for Arkansas families. Arkansas families need to know they can feel secure in their neighborhoods and in their homes, and they will have the right to defend themselves and their families. David Sterling is standing up for the security of Arkansas families. The American Future Fund applauds him for his efforts and urges Arkansas families to thank David Sterling for standing for them.”
Source Watch provides some more background on the outfit:
American Future Fund is a 501(c)(4) conservative nonprofit largely dedicated to running television and web ads that promote conservative causes and influence elections. Like many (c)(4) groups, the Fund has been very secretive about who controls or manages it. AFF was founded in 2008 by Nick Ryan, who worked as an advisor on Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign as well as founded the pro-Santorum Super PAC, Red White and Blue Fund.Their records indicate that they were incorporated by Alex N. Vogel and his wife, Jill Holtzman Vogel, who together run the consulting agency Holtzman Vogel. The first president of the group, Nicole Schlinger, was the former executive director of the Iowa Republican Party. According to NPR, a large number of AFF’s leadership were members of Mitt Romney’s 2008 failed campaign for president.
The American Future Fund received $1.1 million from the Center to Protect Patient Rights in 2011 after getting $1.3 million in 2009 and $11.7 million in 2010.
The Fund spent $25 million in 2012 elections and $26 million in 2010, generally targeting liberal candidates. Seed money came from an ethanol magnate in Iowa. And, sure, there are Kochs at the bottom of this barrel. Again from Source Watch:
According to a 2014 ProPublica report, “the American Future Fund, which pulled in a whopping $68 million in 2012, got more than 92 percent of that money from Freedom Partners and the Center” and “according to tax and FEC records, the American Future Fund poured at least $19.8 million from the Center and Freedom Partners into elections.”
CPPR is run by Sean Noble, who Politico described as a Koch Operative , Nobel was hired by the Kochs to coordinate with other conservative superPACs to target Democratic representatives in 2010.
Why do they want to buy the attorney general of Arkansas? Not for a gun law, you can reasonably speculate. The attorney general, in Koch World, wouldn’t be filing class action lawsuits against profiteering private corporations. He or she wouldn’t be rigorously enforcing environmental regulations. He or she wouldn’t be raising sand about the perils of an interstate pipeline that could carry Koch oil to a Koch refinery. He or she wouldn’t opine unfavorably on the constitutionality of all manner of legislation that could affect the corporate interest.
But advocacy of Stand Your Ground is reason enough to OPPOSE Sterling. Arkansas, as friendly toward guns as it is, has so far resisted, in part because of opposition from state prosecutors of all partisan colors. Florida tells us graphically what happens under Stand Your Ground laws. They are used to gun down people who can’t give their side of the story after being plugged dead for giving offense to a gun toter. The number of homicides ruled “justifiable” have jumped sharply in states such as Florida where the laws were enacted. The laws haven’t been accompanied by decreases in other crimes. And the law also is often seen as producingracially disparate treatment — that is, more forbearance for whites who shoot blacks because they say they felt threatened. The issue rose toprominence in the Trayvon Martin case.
Self-defense is already ground for shooting someone. Arkansas doesn’t need a Stand Your Ground Law. It doesn’t need a legal extremistlike David Sterling as attorney general (he’s made it clear he has no respect for federal court precedent or law). It doesn’t need a shadowy right-wing group from out of state buying elections.
The Republican winner faces Democratic state Rep. Nate Steel. He looks better all the time.