Vets for Freedom: Opposing John Murtha and Supporting Joe Lieberman

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

Vets for Freedom contests and condemns the views of sixteen-term Congressman John P. Murtha, a "decorated Vietnam veteran and military hawk, [who] has become the face of the Democrats' anti-war movement since he called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops" from Iraq in fall 2005. "His oft-repeated criticism of the Bush administration's war policies also has earned him the wrath of Republicans." [1][2]

In its August 11, 2006, edition, the Wall Street Journal reported that "In Connecticut itself, an organization of mainly Republican veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is working with Republican strategist Dan Senor to boost Joe Lieberman's efforts to win re-election as an independent. Mr. Senor is working in an unpaid capacity for Vets for Freedom," which commenced "its pro-Lieberman push with a full-page ad" in the Monday, August 14, 2006, Hartford Courant that "praises Mr. Lieberman for 'integrity, leadership, and unwavering commitment to America's troops.' The organization hopes to run other print and radio ads in the fall, and is also planning on campaigning door-to-door for Mr. Lieberman and holding a public rally on his behalf. 'These vets are grateful to Sen. Lieberman for not letting politics compromise his positions, and they wanted to express that,' Mr. Senor says." [3]

Bill Andresen, Lieberman's former chief of staff, "is also helping the group, which by law is prohibited from communicating with the campaign." [4]

VFF executive director Wade Zirkle "said Lieberman is the first of several candidates the group, which was launched earlier this year, hopes to support," Brian Lockhart reported August 15, 2006, in The (Stamford, CT) Advocate.

Zirkle also said that "voters in Connecticut could expect to see more Vets For Freedom radio and television spots for Lieberman and possibly receive phone calls from members seeking support for the senator," Lockhart wrote.

"Some Republicans are being less bashful in their embrace of Lieberman," Jonathan Darman reported in the August 21-28, 2006, issue of Newsweek. "Vets for Freedom, an independent group of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is launching a media campaign in support of Lieberman. Among the group's advisers are prominent Republicans: former Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. The group is attractive to Republicans 'who want to help Lieberman but [are] not going to start writing checks to his campaign because he's still a Democrat,' says a senior Republican affiliated with the group who asked not to be identified while the group is launching. Lieberman's former chief of staff is also helping the group along with prominent Democrats who are rooting for Lieberman but don't want to risk the ire of the Netroots."

Promoting VFF-AF's Candidate: Joe Lieberman

Described September 2, 2006, as an "independent group" of "veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan" with "ties to top Republican leaders" by Jennifer Medina in the New York Times [5], VFF-AF "will begin sponsoring television commercials" on Wednesday, September 6, 2006, "for Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, thanking him for his support of the war in Iraq."

The ads, the Times reported, will "feature four Connecticut veterans, who look directly at the camera and appear to finish one another’s sentences, after introducing themselves as veterans of the wars."

Republican strategist Dan Senor said that in "the next two months" the "ads will be shown on cable news outlets in Connecticut, but the group will also place them in other national media markets. There are no plans to promote any other candidate, but that could change in the next several weeks, Mr. Senor said." (emphasis added)

Media Buys

The only record of media buys by VFF-AF comes from the September 25, 2006, packet of forms and schedules filed with the FEC by HoltzmanVogel PLLC on behalf of VFF-AF.

As of April 2, 2007, VFF-AF (Committee ID: C30000566) had not reported any other 24-hour notices of receipts or expenditures for "Electioneering Communications" as required by the FEC.

Joe Lieberman

VFF-AF made two media buys on behalf of Democrat-cum-Independent Senate Candidate Joe Lieberman:

  • September 20, 2006, SSG Media, Inc. of Washington, DC, was paid $20,000 for the "Media Buy - Cable - Brian".
  • September 22, 2006, Red October Productions of Washington, DC, was paid $7,517.50 for "Editorial - Brian".

Missing Reports

On July 25, 2006, VFF-AF established itself with the IRS as a 527 political action committee.

Unaccounted for are the funding sources and required 24-hour notice/"Electioneering Communications" filings for:

  • The August 14, 2006, advertisement placed in the Hartford (CT) Courant in support of Joe Lieberman's run as a Democratic candidate in the Connecticut primary.
  • The September 2006 $60,000.00 cable and network channels media buy "featuring veterans from the state [of Connecticut] who thank [Joe Lieberman] the three-term incumbent for backing the conflict" in Iraq, as reported by Wade Zirkle to the Associated Press.

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

External articles

These links relate to both Vets for Freedom and Vets for Freedom Action Fund.