Through his political advocacy firm, FWD.us, billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is now playing a role in GOP primaries.
Starting Tuesday, Zuckerberg’s FWD.us’s “Americans for a Conservative Direction” arm–a group aimed at trying to help Republicans stave off conservative opposition to amnesty–is spending $150,000 to help Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) fight off primary challenger Frank Roche after she stumbled through an interview on Laura Ingraham’s radio program last week.
“Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) is a conservative fighter for North Carolina,” a narrator reads in the television version of the ad, while pictures of Ellmers move across the screen. It continues:
Ellmers voted for a Balanced Budget Amendment to cut the debt and stop the wasteful spending in Washington. She’s protecting Fort Bragg and Pope Airfield from massive defense cuts and working hard to secure the border and fix our broken immigration system once and for all. No amnesty, period.
The ad then lists the D.C. phone number for Ellmers’ congressional office and advises viewers to “call Congresswoman Ellmers and tell her to keep fighting for conservative solutions.”
Rosemary Jenks, NumbersUSA director of government relations, told Breitbart News that the claim that Ellmers is opposed to amnesty is not true. Jenks said that Ellmers’ continued endorsement of legal status for illegal aliens–which she backed in her Ingraham interview and in an op-ed for the Fayetteville Observer earlier this year, among other places–is support for amnesty.
“Despite the false statements in the FWD.us ads, Congresswoman Ellmers has made her position on illegal immigration clear,” Jenks said in an email. “She supports granting legal status to illegal aliens, and that is amnesty. As we learned in 1986, amnesty only begets more illegal immigration.”
Zuckerberg is also running radio ads in Ellmers’ district to coincide with the TV ads. According to Politico, the initial ad buy is $150,000, and the ads will run for ten days across Ellmers’ district.
Last week, Ellmers melted down in support of amnesty in a live interview on Ingraham’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Ellmers endorsed legal status for illegal aliens, and during the interview, she called Ingraham “small-minded” and “ignorant.” Ellmers also claimed she authored the ubiquitous “de facto amnesty” talking point–which she clearly did not–referring to herself in the third person, saying, “Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) thinks for herself.”
After the interview–and posts about it on Breitbart–Ellmers’ D.C. office asked pro-amnesty group ImmigrationWorksUSA, and potentially other pro-amnesty groups, to help rescue her. That group, Zuckerberg’s FWD.us, and a consortium of other pro-amnesty operations, were quickly out in public defending Ellmers.
Last Friday, Ingraham hosted Roche–Ellmers’ primary challenger–on her show, offering him a forum to discuss his immigration views. Roche opposed amnesty and a massive increase in legal immigration. “We’ve become dependent on this cheap source of immigrant labor,” Roche said during the interview. “It’s a moral hazard for both businesses and citizens, and it has to stop. The rhetoric has to change on the discussion.”
Zuckerberg’s decision to get involved in GOP primaries is not surprising, though this appears to be the first time his group is playing on that field. FWD.us has run ads backing pro-amnesty GOP lawmakers, ranging from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), among others.
On Friday morning, before Roche’s appearance on her program, Ingraham warned her listeners about the influence Zuckerberg and other wealthy business interests have in Washington. “When you believe the government is not responding to your values, protecting your values, responding to your wishes, just look on the bright side: Billionaires do have instant access to [President Obama],” Ingraham said. “Government of the people, by the people, for the oligarchs.”