Outside Group Asks Voters to ‘Fire’ Daschle
A new soft-money organization has begun a television and radio campaign targeting Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D), the first major third-party expenditure this year in the highest-profile Senate race in the country.
The ads, which parody NBC’s successful reality television show “The Apprentice,” are being sponsored by the You’re Fired committee.
The organization, which is led by wealthy Eureka, Calif., securities executive Rob Arkley, filed its initial paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service on July 16 and quickly went into action, placing a two-week statewide television buy set to begin today and a six-week statewide radio buy, which started Tuesday.
The television ad shows a faux boardroom with two “advisers” telling a chief executive (meant to mimic “The Apprentice’s” Donald Trump) that “Tom” needs to be fired.
“Tom has too many people in his department, we can do a lot better with someone in our department,” one of the advisers says.
The executive concludes that “we have one too many Democrats around here and that’s not a good thing,” before uttering the group’s tagline: “You’re fired.”
With the special election victory of Rep. Stephanie Herseth in June, the entire three-person South Dakota delegation is composed of Democrats.
The television campaign is set to run through Aug. 6 at an approximate cost of $150,000.
The radio ad strikes much the same chord, saying that with Daschle “everything is political” and that he is “difficult to work with.”
Not surprisingly, the campaigns of both Daschle and his opponent, former Rep. John Thune (R), used the new ads to strike at one another.
“It is incredibly important to note that the head of this group is a financial contributor to Thune,” said Daschle deputy campaign manager Dan Pfeiffer. “If Thune really wanted this group to stay out of the state, he would simply have to ask them.”
Both Arkley and his wife, Cherie, have given the maximum $4,000 to Thune’s campaign.
Arkley is the head of Security National Servicing Corp.; his wife is a former Eureka city councilwoman, who lost a race for mayor in 2002 by just 42 votes.
Calls to the You’re Fired committee as well as to Arkley’s home were not returned by press time.
Dick Wadhams, campaign manager for Thune, said that these ads indicated “the season has started.”
“Not too far behind this group will be liberal third-party groups attacking John Thune,” Wadhams added.
Although Daschle pledged unilaterally to keep all third-party groups from advertising in the state on his behalf after Thune chose not to sign that pledge, that has not stopped some Democratic donors.
A group called Focus on South Dakota, based in Sioux Falls, has been on file with the Internal Revenue Service since last year, although its existence has only recently come to light.
H.J. Robinson is listed in the IRS filing as the contact for Focus; he gave $250 to Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential campaign in April.
He did not return an e-mail seeking comment on his organization’s goals.
It has been fundraising actively for much of the last year, however.
In June, Focus brought in $75,000, including a $50,000 contribution from Peter Angelos, a trial lawyer and major donor to Democratic causes.
All told, the group has raised $115,000 since July 1, 2003.
Paul Kane contributed to this report.