Government ethics groups come in all shapes and sizes. City Ethics, an ordinary nonprofit, has a website with huge amounts of information about government ethics, and no financial resources. The American Dream Initiative, a social welfare organization founded last year, apparently has large financial resources, but no website and no information about government ethics.
I say “apparently” because, according to an article that went up yesterday afternoon on the Austin American-Statesman website, the American Dream Initiative recently funded ads that cost about half-a-million dollars criticizing a Texas attorney general candidate. The ads, during the week before a run-off election, say that the candidate, a state senator, was reprimanded by a securities regulator for having taken kickbacks. They also ask viewers to contact the candidate and tell him “to support ethics reform legislation to make government honest.”
The Initative’s chair, Dan Backer, who represented Shaun McCutcheon in his eponymous campaign finance case, told the paper that the Initiative is intended to champion “traditionally conservative ideals,” particularly “government ethics reform. … We’re taking an opportunity, when people are paying attention, to push the issue of government ethics reform.” However, the ads made no mention of any government ethics reform bill or even subject. The candidate’s violation was not of a government ethics provision, but of securities-related provisions.