The 501c(4) running the attack ads on Gov. Tom Corbett is run by a Democratic consultant named Bud Jackson (below right) who worked for Bill DeWeese's campaign from 2006-2008 and for the House Democratic Campaign Committee during the Bonusgate years (though Jackson notes he never took direction from DeWeese's compatriot Mike Veon, and broke ties with DeWeese pre-indictment). Those connections were remarked upon by the governor's spokesman Kevin Harley, and Jackson has responded with threats of legal action.
Jackson won't identify any of the funders behind the two-week, statewide ad campaign, and there is no requirement that he do so. Nonprofits the American Working Familes fund are considered "social welfare" groups that are allowed to run political issue ads and they are report to post little in the way of spending or fundraising details. The sole other name connected to the group is treasurer John Balduzzi, a fellow Democratic consultant with ties to Harrisburg Democrats: his consultancy did special election research for the House Democratic Campaign Committee this year, and his former firm (Kennedy Communications) performed $45,000 worth of consulting for the committee in 2010-2011, according to state campaign finance data.
Here's my full story from the main site:
The Democratic consultant behind an attack ad running statewide on Gov. Tom Corbett's spending policies will not disclose who is funding his effort, while criticizing conservative ad-makers taking advantage of the same no-holds-barred advertising rules.
The 30-second ad from the American Working Families Action Fund in Alexandria, Va., repeats Democratic criticisms of Corbett administration education and health care cuts, while assailing him for raising salaries of top personnel and resisting high taxes on energy firms.
"Tom Corbett isn't spending less. He's just making things harder for the middle class," says the ad, which is running in every television market statewide.
Those criticisms alone are not remarkable, as they have been raised elsewhere, but the timing of the attack is -- coming more than two years before the governor will face re-election. The fund's founder, Democratic consultant Bud Jackson, said the assault was partially timed to coincide with state budget deliberations this month.
"Why hasn't it happened sooner?" he said in regard to the timing. "Our purpose is twofold: to alert Pennsylvania people who are too busy working jobs to follow day to day what the governor's been doing ... and the second purpose is to say to the governor [that] we're watching you from now on and you will not get away without consequences."
The fund is not a super-PAC, but rather a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, which allows it to run ads on political issues and avoid federal campaign contributor disclosure laws.
In a video posted on his anti-Corbett website, Mr. Jackson criticizes right-wing advertisers such as Crossroads GPS for having "the audacity" to spend millions "to protect and promote a partisan and greedy agenda" but he would not identify who is funding his own ads.
He said his ad funding (of "several hundred thousand dollars") was coming from within Pennsylvania and he needed to protect donors "fearful of a vengeful governor."
"I'm for full disclosure, but that is not the hand we're being dealt on my side of the aisle," Mr. Jackson said in a phone interview. "Democrats and working class people in general are getting hammered over the head by people outspending us probably 100 to 1."
The man listed with the Federal Election Commission as treasurer of American Working Families, another Democratic consultant with ties to Harrisburg named John Balduzzi, also would not address the subject. "I'm not commenting on that," he told a reporter.
Mr. Jackson, too, has long ties to Harrisburg Democrats. His firm received about $645,000 from the House Democratic Campaign Committee from 2004 to 2010, according to state records, with $268,000 coming in the years 2004-06 when "Bonusgate" court testimony showed that the committee's political activity was overseen by former state Reps. Mike Veon and Bill DeWeese. (Records also show that Mr. Jackson's firm earned $45,000 directly from DeWeese's campaigns from 2006 to 2008.)
Both legislators were convicted of public corruption in cases brought by Mr. Corbett when he was state attorney general.
Mr. Corbett's spokesman Kevin Harley seized on that, saying "it comes as no surprise the Washington, D.C.-based media consultant for convicted felons Bill DeWeese and Mike Veon is running negative political ads against Gov. Corbett, who happens to be the man who charged both of these corrupt politicians."
Mr. Jackson said he cut ties with DeWeese before the latter's 2009 indictment and he never reported to or took direction from Veon when working for the committee. "I had no relationship with Mike Veon, whatsoever," Mr. Jackson stated.
Campaign finance records confirm Veon's 2006 campaign used a different media consultant called Sheingold Associates.
"The accusations or innuendo made by the governor through his press secretary today are false, and both the governor and his press secretary should consider this a warning that any future similar statements could result in a defamation lawsuit. I have already referred this matter to our attorney," Mr. Jackson stated.
"This vengeful behavior is the very reason why people have been afraid to stand up against him. It is classic behavior from people who can't defend their own record, so they attack the messenger."
Photo: Bud Jackson/The Jackson Group