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Super PAC aims for Rep. Cravaack with ads

A new Democratic Super PAC has spent more than $43,000 on ads critical of Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack since late April, according to a Minnesota Independent search of federal disclosure filings.

The liberal House Majority PAC applied the funds to at least four different television and radio ad buys in Minnesota. The largest, and most recent expenditure paid for $20,900 in television ads in late June.

A late April radio ad paid for by the House Majority PAC attacked Cravaack for supporting proposals made by Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

“Cravaack voted for the Republican budget that protects big corporations and the wealthy instead of Minnesota families and seniors,” the ad stated. “Cravaack would increase the tax burden on the middle class and end Medicare as we know it.”

Although there haven’t yet been any 2011 independent expenditures in favor of the freshman congressman, nearly $95,000 was independently expended in 16 separate incidents in support of his 2010 candidacy, according to Federal Election Commission records.

House Majority PAC formed this year and has already raised more $800,000 this election cycle, much of it from wealthy donors like hedge fund manager Donald Sussman or unions like AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (who chipped in $200,000), according to FEC records. The group has already spend more than half a million dollars targeting Republicans running for House seats across the country.

Open government advocates have criticized independent expenditure groups, which can now raise unlimited amounts of corporate and union money following last year’s Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court. Super PACs can not give directly to candidates or coordinate with campaigns.

Former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold told Huffington Post at last month’s Netroots Nation conference that the Democratic Party was in danger of losing its “soul” if it relied on Super PACs — although the House Majority PAC hasn’t yet accepted any direct corporate donations.

Republican Super PACs like American Crossroads outspent Democrats in the 2010 election by more than $40 million, according to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation. House Majority is one of a few Democratic Super PACs hoping to balance out that spending.

Comedian Stephen Colbert, who was recently granted approval to create his own Super PAC, told Politico that the Citizens United decision was right: “There should be unlimited corporate money, and I want some of it. I don’t want to be the one chump who doesn’t have any.”

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