Published November 14, 2010
What happened to Democratic Congressman Charlie Wilson in his re-election bid in the 6th District, which includes the southern portion of Mahoning County and all of Columbiana County, among others? A 501(c)4 organization, that’s what. And, also lay blame on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and even President Barack Obama. They were used by the non-profit entity to make the case that Wilson of St. Clairsville has been a yes-man to evil Democrats (as characterized by the Republicans).
The GOP nominee for the 6th District seat, businessman Bill Johnson, a political newcomer, won because he had a lot of outside money working on his behalf.
Research on the race done by a veteran politico shows the following:
A group called American Action Network, a 501(c)4, was created after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v FEC that allowed corporate spending in elections. AAM shares office space with American Crossroads, founded by Republican big shot Karl Rove, who is not named as being part of AAN
According to Federal Election Commission filings, American Action Network spent $1 million in the Johnson-Wilson race — two installments of $505,000 each.
The money went for hard-hitting, anti-Wilson commercials, including one tying Charlie Wilson to Pelosi and pork barrel spending.
Republicans had targeted the 6th District race from the outset, but there’s no doubt that the large infusion of outside money put Johnson over the top.