The Senate Conservatives Fund, an outside group working to unseat some Republican incumbents, is out today with a new web ad hitting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The Web commercial is titled “Bully” and draws parallels between the Kentucky Republican and last year’s IRS scandal, in which tea party and conservative groups were given extra scrutiny on their tax-exempt applications, saying he too is “bullying” conservatives.
The ad comes just one day after McConnell introduced legislation that would prevent the IRS from enacting regulations that would restrict the way some of these groups, from both sides of the aisle, engage in political activity.
The SCF is actively working to elect McConnell’s primary challenger, Matt Bevin. SCF says it is putting $100,000 behind the Web ad and that it is also going to send it to its email list of 1 million across the country.
SCF is an outside grassroots group that is not affiliated with the Republican Party or its campaign committees, but it is promoting conservative candidates and working to unseat some GOP incumbents. They have already put $1.2 million in the Kentucky race backing Bevin.
“Bullying. Threats. Intimidation,” the narrator reads over footage of former IRS director Lois Lerner testifying before Congress before moving to images of McConnell. “The IRS? No. Try Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican Leader. That’s right. Mitch McConnell is trying to bully and intimidate conservatives just like the IRS is.”
The video claims McConnell is trying to “silence conservatives” and that he “tried to intimidate conservative Matt Bevin to stop him from running.”
The scathing ad then calls McConnell “desperate” and says he is “headed for defeat in November.”
“McConnell is unpopular in Kentucky because he doesn’t stand for anything,” the narrator says. “His ideology is power.”
The ad then goes into McConnell’s past votes to raise the debt limit and asks viewers to “send a message to Mitch McConnell today.”
“If he wants to vote like a Democrat, he can become a Democrat,” the narrator says in the 90-second spot. “And if he wants to act like the IRS, he can get a job with the IRS. But don’t try to fool conservatives by pretending you’re one of us, Senator McConnell. You’re not.”
McConnell has consistently spoken out against the IRS scandal, even as recently as Tuesday on the Senate floor when he introduced his new legislation to increase scrutiny of the IRS.
“Instead of putting safeguards in place to protect our civil liberties, the Obama administration is now dragging the IRS back in the opposite direction,” McConnell said, alleging the administration is “pushing a regulation that would actually entrench and encourage the harassment of groups that dare to speak up and engage in the conversation.”
During the revelations after the IRS scandal, it also came to light that progressive groups were targeted for increased scrutiny as well.
McConnell’s spokesperson Allison Moore responded to the ad.
“They found out yesterday that their endorsed candidate is significantly to the left of Senator McConnell on virtually every issue so we don’t blame them for acting irrationally,” Moore said in a statement, referring to a Politico report that revealed that while Bevin currently opposes the 2008 federal bailout of banks, in 2008 he supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP, something McConnell voted for and Bevin has consistently attacked him for on the campaign trail.
“Actual conservatives would realize they made a mistake by endorsing Matt Bevin when it was revealed that he’s a con-man, but this group has money to make,” Moore said.
Bevin and McConnell are set to face off in the May 20 Republican primary and whoever wins that race will go on to face Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in the November general election.
The issue of bullying in Republican politics has been in the headlines recently as another GOP leader, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been accused of bullying political tactics in the George Washington Bridge lane closure and related scandals. Many Republicans are using the IRS scandal to rebut the allegations against Christie, noting that Obama was caught off guard by rogue operators just as Christie was.
Polls show McConnell in a tighter race with Grimes, but still leading Bevin by a significant margin. He also leads both opponents in fundraising, but Bevin by a wider margin.
This story has been updated since it was first posted.