Crony Capitalist Panic: Ad Supporting Cantor First Primary Buy in American Chemistry Council's 142 Year History

Crony Capitalist Panic: Ad Supporting Cantor First Primary Buy in American Chemistry Council's 142 Year History

The American Chemical Council (ACC) will make a $289,000 independent expenditure for local network and cable television ads in support of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) during the three weeks leading up to the June 10 Republican primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. The ad buy, first reported in Politico, will air next week, according to an email ACC spokesperson Anne Kolton sent Breitbart News on Friday.

The ad buy marks the first time in the ACC’s 142-year history that it has made an independent expenditure on behalf of any candidate in a contested primary. 

Cantor’s challenger, Tea Party-backed Dave Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, told Breitbart News late Friday that this ad buy from a group whose members include Dow Chemical, DuPont, Eli Lilly, Exxon Mobil, and dozens of other chemical manufacturers is just another brazen example of the kind of crony capitalist, political deal-making that characterizes Cantor’s conduct in office.

“James Madison could never have imagined the American Chemistry Council would have spent $300,000 to crush an opponent of a member of Congress,” Brat told Breitbart News.

Brat told Breitbart News the intellectual tradition of James Madison was a motivating factor in his challenge to Cantor. Madison represented significant portions of the current 7th Congressional District in the very first Congress. He defeated James Monroe in 1789 after the two friends and rivals engaged in a series of public debates throughout the district.

“The biggest thing is, this kind of crony capitalism doesn’t just influence economic markets,” Brat added. “It’s in the media market as well. When the media is beholden to crony capitalists, the American experiment is a failure.”

As Breitbart News reported earlier, a victory by a Tea Party-backed candidate over an Eric Cantor ally in last Saturday’s election of a new district chairman for the 7th Congressional District Republican Committee has sparked a growing momentum around the Brat campaign.

Kolton did not explan the company’s sudden decision to make a significant independent expenditure in the high-profile race between Cantor and Brat. On the surface, it looks like a financial mismatch. On March 31, Professor Brat had only $42,000 in cash on hand, while Cantor had over $1.9 million.

Kolton did not address a Breitbart News inquiry if the ACC decision to make the independent expenditure on behalf of Cantor indicated the organization thought the outcome of the June 10 primary was now in doubt. 

“We frequently run ads highlighting the positive work of members of Congress who show leadership on issues that are important to the manufacturing sector,” Kolton told Breitbart News on Friday. 

Calvin Dooley, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Chemical Council, served in Congress from 1991 to 2004. A Democrat, Dooley represented California’s 20th Congressional District. His service in Congress overlapped with Representative Cantor, who was first elected in 2000.

A review of the American Chemistry Council YouTube Channel shows the organization has published 39 political ads supporting specific members of Congress in the two and a half years from January 1, 2012 to May 16, 2014. Of these ads, 38 were “issue ads” and only one (on behalf of Tommy Thompson in 2012) was an “independent expenditure” ad.

Since the ads are all the same boilerplate version of a generically positive 30 second message,  the ACC’s Kolton told Breitbart News whether they are classified as “issue ads” or “independent expenditures” depends on how closely they run to a primary or general election.

A Breitbart search of Federal Election Commission records, which was confirmed by the ACC’s Kolton, indicates that the ACC had made only two independent expenditures over the last four years prior to the Cantor independent expenditure.

In 2012, it spent $648,600 in independent expenditures on television ads in support of Tommy Thompson’s unsuccessful general election bid for the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin. 

In 2010, it spent $225,000 in independent expenditures on television ads in support of Joe Manchin’s successful special election bid for the U.S. Senate from West Virginia. While FEC records indicate the ad buy was placed on August 10, 2010, two and a half weeks prior to the August 28, 2010 Democratic primary which Manchin easily won, the ACC report filed with the FEC describing the buy stated that it was for the “special” election, not the “special primary election.” In 2012 it also spent an unknown amount of money on “issue ads” in support of Senator Manchin.

An “issues ad” supporting Representative Cantor was posted on the American Chemistry Council YouTube Channel  on December 5, 2013. 

It appears unlikely that the ACC’s Eric Cantor independent expenditure ads will depart from the organization’s historically “boilerplate” approach.  “All our ads have been positive and they will continue to be positive,” Kolton said.