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CREW wants probe of Ohio campaign ads

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News,Richard Pollock,Watchdog Blog

A national congressional ethics watchdog group today asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate a conservative non-profit it charges ran political TV ads in Ohio on the eve of the 2012 election without disclosing nearly a million dollars in expenditures.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington allege the non-profit, Checks and Balances for Economic Growth, violated campaign finance laws by failing to disclose to the FEC it had spent nearly $900,000 on two ads attacking President Obama and Ohio Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown. CREW says the ads were political ads and violated federal reporting rules.

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, called the FEC to investigate.

"CBEG spent close to a million dollars trying to defeat Democratic candidates, yet thinks it can completely ignore the law," she declared adding, "This isn't the wild, wild west. "

Alan Dye, counsel to CBEG, said CREW was wrong.

"I think they are mixing up Internet Facebook with broadcast," Dye told The Washington Examiner in an interview. "I believe there were two sets of ads, one set on the Internet and one set on broadcast."

He said CREW's complaint was "shoddy" because "they don't make the distinctions like that.

"The organization was very careful that the broadcast ads should not contain express advocacy or name a candidate. If you don't contain express advocacy and name a candidate, there is nothing to report," he said.

The ads focused on the sentiments of coal miners about the Obama administration's anti-coal regulations. One ad concluded by stating, "Stop the War on Coal." Neither ad urged the election or defeat of Obama, Brown or their opponents.

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