Television ads that can be seen on cable news networks promoting petitions to abolish the IRS and defund Obamacare are being used by political action committees to boost their fundraising rolls.
The campaigns against the unpopular health care law and the scandal-ridden tax-collecting agency feature senators talking directly to the camera, encouraging viewers to dial 1-800 numbers, which are used to solicit donations.
The Senate Conservatives Fund and Citizens United have competing online petitions to "abolish the IRS," and are running nearly identical ads featuring Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Rand Paul (R., Ky.). Both groups provide a 1-800 number to sign their voice petitions, asking callers for donations if they record their names after the tone.
The Senate Conservatives Fund will provide a free bumper sticker with a donation, and additionally asks for a $10 contribution to have a copy of the petition personally delivered to all 100 senators.
Citizens United simply asks, "Can we count on you for a generous donation to help the fight against the IRS?" After 30 seconds of silence the automated voice says, "Thank you, goodbye."
So far 207,525 have signed the Senate Conservatives Fund petition.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, founded by former senator and current president of the Heritage Foundation Jim Demint, is running similar ads to defund Obamacare. The campaign again features Cruz. Sen. Mike Lee (R.,Utah) also appears in an ad.
When calling a separate 1-800 number, an automated voice conducts a nationwide "poll," which asks if Republicans should defund Obamacare. Respondents are asked to press one if Republicans should stop the law’s implementation, or two if "Republicans should allow it to be implemented."
After the poll, a message from Cruz is played, ending with, "Can we count on you for a donation?"
With a $25 contribution callers can receive a copy of Mark Levin’s book Liberty and Tyranny.
If you decline, the voice operator then acknowledges that these are "tough economic times," but asks for a $10 donation to communicate with 100 voters in key states about defunding the health care law.
Yet another ad with a different 1-800 number run by the group has a voice petition to defund Obamacare, asking for donations after a name is recorded.
Both numbers advertise the group’s "Don’t fund Obamacare" website that says 669,175 people signed its petition so far. The site keeps a running tally of senators who have pledged to oppose 2014 funding for the law.
Once a person signs the petition they are directed to a website asking for donations in the amounts of $25, $50, 100, or $200. "Your support will help us advertise on TV, radio, and Internet all across the country," the website says.
Demint founded the Senate Conservatives Fund in 2008, launching a fundraising machine that went on to help elect candidates such as Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wisc.) in 2010. According to Politico, Demint raised more than $17 million to promote conservative candidates between 2009 and 2012.
Demint cut formal ties with the group before he left the senate last year, allowing it to form as a super PAC. The group advertises itself as "electing true conservatives to the Senate," and says, "We do not support liberal Republicans and we're not affiliated with the Republican Party or any of its campaign committees."
The Senate Conservatives Fund delivered $2,078,171 to nine different candidates in 2012, with Cruz receiving the second highest amount with $315,991.
Overall, the organization spent $3,546,738 in the 2012 cycle.
Aside from its television campaign, the group is also airing nearly $200,000 worth of 60-second radio ads in six states targeting senators who do not support defunding Obamacare in the upcoming continuing resolution (CR). The CR must pass by Oct. 1 to keep the government funded.
Among the targets are Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), and Richard Burr (R., N.C.), who called defunding Obamacare the "dumbest idea I’ve ever heard."
The Washington Free Beacon was unable to reach the Senate Conservatives Fund for comment for this story. Calls to Citizens United and the Heritage Foundation, now run by Demint, were also not returned.