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A reader in Mukilteo, Washington, a coastal suburb about 20 miles north of Seattle, reports seeing an independent attack ad against Washington Sen. Patty Murray. The 30-second spot, entitled “Can’t Afford Patty,” bashes the third-term Democrat for having “increased our national debt by trillions.” The reader’s tip was submitted via Sunlight Foundation’s Campaign Ad Monitor, with which the Center is collaborating to inform our You Report: Election 2010 reporting initiative this election season.

The ad is being run by Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (Crossroads GPS), a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) advocacy organization connected to the American Crossroads 527 group. It features an actress re-enacting a 1992 radio interview in which Murray blasted the federal government for failing to deal with “a 4 trillion dollar debt” and “9 million people out of jobs.” With the nation now facing a larger debt, the ad claims Murray “wants to raise taxes to help pay for it.” The ad ends with a cartoon image of the senator atop a pile of money with the tagline “We can’t afford 6 more years of Patty Murray.”

Crossroads GPS has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ads critical of other Democratic Senate nominees and has not disclosed the sources of its contributions (as a 501(c)(4), its donor list need not be made public). The committee’s DC offices are, amusingly, in the same office building as America Votes, the liberal 527 famous for its involvement in the 2004 elections.

A spokeswoman for Murray’s re-election campaign told the Center that “Senator Murray supports the DISCLOSE Act which would require such groups to come clean about who is behind these attacks. Voters have a right to know who is paying for these ads.” A campaign press release blamed the nation’s economic problems on the George W. Bush administration’s policies and describes Crossroads GPS as “Karl Rove’s Shady Front Group For Attack Ads Bought And Paid For By Corporations.”

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for both Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads, confirmed that Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie “encouraged the formation” of Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads but said neither is on the board of either group.

Ironically, Gillespie, in a 2007 interview, told the Center for Public Integrity, “We have allowed these 527s to run wild, unfettered, unregulated, not subject to the same rules and regulations as the national parties. And I think that’s been incredibly unhealthy.”

Ad Title: Can’t Afford Patty

Paid for By: Crossroads GPS

Disclaimer: Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS) is responsible for the content of this advertising. Paid for by Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

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