In the first attack ad of the year, the American Action Network (AAN) let loose a baseless assault on Senator Patty Murray’s strong record of serving Washington families. After a closer look at the Karl Rove-driven ad, the connected dots draw a clear line from the shady AAN to handpicked Republican candidate Dino Rossi.

CEO and former Senator Norm Coleman leads the group. The Seattle Times reports that Rossi’s campaign manager, Pat Shortridge, was involved with Coleman’s failed 2008 re-election campaign.

Coleman believes the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling will “greatly enhance” AAN’s fundraising. Not surprisingly, Rossi has not staked a position on either Citizens United or the DISCLOSE Act that would require organizations that make political expenditures to make their donor list public.

As for Rove, it’s no secret that he was deployed to recruit Rossi to run for governor back in 2004.

“Dino Rossi and his friends went from zero to slime in six weeks,” said Sadie Weiner, Deputy Communications Director for the Washington State Democrats. “The Karl Rove Republican operatives controlling this group’s strings would like nothing more than to give another go at the failed policies that got us into this crisis in the first place, and they are willing to throw millions behind rank and file candidates like Dino who will parrot their talking points. Dino is well connected to the establishment Republicans and Wall Street millionaires bankrolling this latest attack.”

The American Action Network is one piece of a five-pronged Republican coalition aimed at fomenting a GOP revival. Politico reports that long-time Republican operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie are driving the effort. Politico also outlines the group’s shady reporting requirements:

“Because the groups are registered only with the Internal Revenue Service and not the Federal Election Commission, they can accept so-called soft money — that is, contributions not subject to FEC donation limits or source restrictions forbidding cash from corporations or unions.”


Former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman is the group’s CEO.

Nixon White House aide and disgraced former RNC operative Fred Malek serves on the board. Malek was forced to resign from his high-level post at the RNC in 1988 after he admitted to his role in President Nixon’s crusade against the Jews.

Former Virginia Senator George Allen of “Macaca” fame.

WSJ: Norm Coleman, Haley Barbour, Jeb Bush, to Form American Action Network With Bush Insiders and Strategists To Mobilize Grassroots Effort and Raise Funds For 2010 Midterms. “At least half a dozen leaders of the Republican Party have joined forces to create a new political group with the goal of organizing grass-roots support and raising funds ahead of the 2010 midterm elections, according to people familiar with the effort. The organizational details of the group, expected to be called the American Action Network, are still being worked out, but it is expected to contain both a 501(c)3 and a 501(c)4 component. In simpler terms, a 501(c)3 can advocate on policy matters while a 501(c)4 is an election arm. Republican leaders expected to be affiliated with the group include former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Bush adviser Karl Rove, Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, and Republican donor Fred Malek. A House leadership aide told Washington Wire today that Rob Collins, a political operative and senior aide to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, is leaving Capitol Hill to be the executive director of the 501(c)4.” [Wall Street Journal, WashingtonWire, 1/29/10]

American Action Network Part Of Rove’s Larger Plan: New Right-Wing Conspiracy. “‘Rove, has provided “a laying-on of hands” for the groups — as one organizer put it — by encouraging major Republican donors to support them as part of the GOP’s path to revival. ‘Karl has always said: People call us a vast right-wing conspiracy, but we’re really a half-assed right-wing conspiracy,’ he said. ‘Now, he wants to get serious.’ While separate, the five entities are so closely related that three share an 11th-floor office near the White House.” The groups are American Crossroads, American Action Network, American Action Forum, Resurgent Republic, Republican State Leadership Committee. [Politico, 5/6/10]


Norm Coleman Said Citizens United Case “Greatly Enhanced” American Action Network. “And the Supreme Court’s decision last month in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission potentially will allow the organization to take unlimited contributions from corporations and individuals to use to advertise for or against political candidates. ‘This administration as well as Citizens United — when you combine the two the prospects for funding these types of efforts are greatly enhanced,’ Mr. Coleman said.” [New York Times, 2/4/10]

Coleman Won Primary Because Cheney, Rove Cleared The Field. The day before Pawlenty was scheduled to announce his candidacy for Senate, Karl Rove called his cell phone to let him know that the White House would rather he run for Governor, leaving the Senate race to Coleman. Pawlenty was not properly swayed by this call so mere hours before the press conference was due to start Cheney called him to tell him to run for Governor. This time Pawlenty took the message to heart and instead announced that he would not run for Senate. [New York Times, 10/20/02] Coleman joked about this incident later saying, “Boy, I am sure glad Tim Pawlenty had a listed phone number.” [Pioneer Press, 8/13/02]


Malek Is The “Prototypical ‘Establishment’ Washington Insider and Consiglieri Republican.” “With his Carlyle Group and other corporate connections and his mansion in suburban McLean, Va., Malek is almost the prototypical “establishment” Washington insider and consiglieri Republican, against whom Palin’s adoring book-tour crowds, in their pathetic dreams, imagine her to be a crusader. But her preposterous book Going Rogue is larded with praise for the wise support and advice of this leathery old Beltway bandit. Populism? Hah!” [Slate, Chris Hitchens, 12/7/09]

1988: “High-Level Advisor To Vice President George Bush,” Fred Malek, Resigned From “A Senior Position” At The RNC After “Admitting He Had Compiled A List of Important Jewish Officials At The Bureau of Labor Statistics At The Behest of President Richard Nixon in 1971.” “A high-level adviser to Vice President George Bush resigned from a senior position at the Republican National Committee Sunday after admitting he had compiled a list of important Jewish officials at the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the behest of President Richard Nixon in 1971. The adviser, Frederic V. Malek, a former White House personnel chief, emphatically denied he had engaged in anti-Semitic acts but said he was resigning his post as the party’s deputy chairman ‘because of my belief that nothing should interfere with the vice president’s victory in November.'” [Chicago Tribune, 9/12/88]


Allen was Fiercely Criticized by Washington Post Editorial for Use of Racial Slur Towards Indian-American Tracker (2006). In August 2006, Allen was fiercely criticized by a Washington Post editorial for his use of a racial slur towards S.R. Sidarth, an Indian-American tracker for Jim Webb’s campaign. According to The Washington Post:

“Macaca is the genus for macaques, a type of monkey found mainly in Asia. Mr. Allen, who as a young man had a fondness for Confederate flags and later staunchly opposed a state holiday in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has surely learned too much about racial sensitivities in public life to misspeak so offensively. Mr. Sidarth, who is 20, is a senior at U-Va.; he graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax after compiling an excellent academic record. He is thinking of applying to law school. He may be forgiven if his week-long foray on the campaign trail with Mr. Allen has left him with a bitter taste. “I think he was doing it because he could, and I was the person of color there and it was useful for him in inciting his audience,” Mr. Sidarth told us. ‘I’m disgusted he would use my race in a political context.’ We don’t blame him for feeling that way. But really, by mocking Mr. Sidarth, Sen. George F. Allen demeaned only himself.” (The Washington Post, “Editorial: George Allen’s America,” August 15, 2006)


Karl Rove And Dick Cheney Recruited Rossi To Run For Governor. According to the Seattle Times, “President Bush’s adviser Karl Rove had a hand in recruiting Rossi to run for governor, and Vice President Dick Cheney was the featured guest…at one of Rossi’s fund-raisers.” [Seattle Times, 10/24/04]