The Republican-aligned group Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (better known as Crossroads GPS) is launching a nationwide TV ad criticizing unions, in light of Wisconsin's fight over collective bargaining.
Crossroads GPS and its sister organization, American Crossroads, have been promoted by Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, two of President George W. Bush's top political brains. The groups were criticized heavily by Democrats as "shadowy" and are seen as leading a new wave of (mostly Republican) outside political spending in the post-Citizens United era.
Crossroads GPS spent over $14 million last year during the 2010 midterms, while American Crossroads reported $25.4 million in 2010 expenditures to the Federal Election Commission.
The new ad begins airing today on CNN, CNBC, and Fox News. The group is spending $750,000 to air it for one week and is asking donors for money to fund it.
Crossroads GPS is the second heavy-hitting GOP-aligned group to air a Wisconsin-related ad, as Americans For Prosperity has already advertised in the state of Wisconsin.
UPDATED 3/9/11 2:50 p.m.: The National Education Association (NEA), whose general counsel, Bob Chanin, is shown in the ad suggesting the NEA is significant because it has power, not because it really cares about students at all, says Chanin's quote was taken out of context.
Here's part of NEA Executive Director John Wilson's lengthy response statement:
People of all parties support collective bargaining, and that fact scares Karl Rove, the people at Crossroads and folks like them. Bob Chanin's quote was obviously taken out of context, with the intent of being purposefully divisive. I think Americans are smarter than that, and they are tired of the nasty rhetoric. There is a strong desire to restore balance and civility to the debate--to have all of the parties involved to come to a table and truly negotiate the issues. I think people are going to see these ads for what they are: an attempt to pit working people against working people, when we all know that CEO greed is what caused this current financial crisis.
The NEA e-mailed a fuller version of Chanin's quote to reporters:
So the bad news, or depending on your point of view, the good news, is that NEA and its affiliates will continue to be attacked by conservative and right-wing groups as long as we continue to be effective advocates for public education, for education employees, and for human and civil rights. And that brings me to my final and most important point. Which is why, at least in my opinion, NEA and its affiliates are such effective advocates. Despite what some among us would like to believe, it is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children. And it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.