While much of our focus has been independent groups with millions of dollars to invest in campaign ads, today we note a relatively cheap “robocall” message from Michigan political action committee whose most recent filing showed just $4,340.33 in the bank.
The 96-second robocall attacking Democrat Toni Sessoms was recorded by Gary Glenn, treasurer of Campaign for Michigan Families, a socially conservative state PAC. In a recorded audio message that went to the phones of residents of the state’s 99th legislative district, Glenn highlights the sexual orientation of the openly-lesbian candidate Sessoms, makes claims about the sexual orientation of Sessom’s campaign staff, and calls her a candidate with a “hidden… homosexual activist agenda.”
Sessoms responded with a five-and-a-half minute-long YouTube video. In it, Sessoms sought to debunk claims made in the robocall that her campaign manager is a lesbian (her married campaign manager appears in the video with her husband); that she is wealthy (she drives a 1997 Ford Explorer); and that her deputy campaign manager leads a gay college student group (she has no deputy campaign manager).
In an interview, Sessoms told You Report: Election 2010 that the PAC’s attack seems to have backfired. “What’s funny,” she said, is that “within the first few hours of this robocall, we had Republicans [incensed by the call’s content] calling for yard signs.” Volunteers and small dollar contributors to her campaign have both surged since the ad.
Sessoms worries that “one person with a lot of money and an axe to grind” can “misinform the voters” with independent expenditures like this one.
The Campaign for Michigan Families, in its October filing with the state’s bureau of elections, disclosed the PAC had raised just $6,000 from three donors in 2010. One of those three donors was the leadership PAC for third-term Republican Michigan State Rep. Rick Jones, currently a candidate for state senate.
Jones told You Report: Election 2010 that his one-time donation had been expressly to aid a Republican primary campaign and that he would “not be involved with assisting a group in attacking a gay person in any way.” Jones said he would probably not give to the Campaign for Michigan Families PAC in the future.
Calls to Glenn and his Campaign for Michigan Families requesting comment were not returned.
Ad Title: Untitled Robocall
Paid for By: Campaign for Michigan Families
Disclaimer: “This message was paid for by Campaign for Michigan Families”