The biggest flood of SuperPAC money flowing into the 11th Congressional District to date comes in the form of a new advertisement by a Republican pro-gay rights group.
The ad rehashes an attack on Bill Foster made during his 14th Congressional District race against Republican Jim Oberweis four years ago.
The claim uses a previously debunked, out-of-context quote by Foster to try and paint him as a politician taxpayers can't afford to put back in office.
The ad spotlights Foster's support of the federal stimulus and funding for Fermilab as wasteful uses of taxpayer dollars. Foster's opponent, Republican Judy Biggert, voted against the stimulus, but she has also supported ongoing funding for Fermilab. Foster is a former Fermilab employee.
The ad goes on to claim "the biggest red flag comes from Foster himself." It then plays a quote from Foster saying, "There's nothing in life that you can't improve by throwing money at it."
The voice-over on the ad then says, "Illinois can't afford Bill Foster."
The Foster quote came in response to a question about improving airline safety at a public forum in 2008. Foster's complete quote at the forum:
"Air traffic control is a perfect example of the huge improvements you can make with the appropriate technology. I think also that air traffic control is an example where, if I recall correctly, some rather poor efforts in improving the software and hardware systems have occurred over the years. I, as a scientist, will take a scientific approach to not just safety for air traffic control, but throughout our society. There are ways you can -- there's nothing in life you can't improve by throwing money at it and so I would take (a) scientific approach to the way the federal dollars are spent in a way that improve human life and human safety in the most cost effective way. There are very good publications that regularly review all the different programs that the federal government spends money on. Some are very cost-effective, some are frankly wastes of money that are just done for political reasons. This is one way I would save taxpayer dollars."
Foster's opponent at the forum, Oberweis, then answered the same question by saying he agreed with Foster's comments.
Foster's campaign is trying to get the advertisement pulled from the airways as being factually misleading.
"Congresswoman Biggert and her Wall Street super PAC allies are promoting a clip from 2008 that local news organizations -- including the Daily Herald -- called misleading and out of context, while also criticizing funding for science research that creates and protects thousands of local jobs," said Patrick Brown, Foster's campaign manager. "Congresswoman Biggert should immediately denounce this ad that attacks critical funding for Fermilab and portrays false information."
Biggert's campaign is not directly affiliated with the ad.
"Judy Biggert is an independent leader with a strong record of bipartisan accomplishments, and her candidacy is supported by Americans from all walks of life," Campaign Spokesman Gill Stevens said Wednesday night. "She's running a positive campaign focused on the issues that matter to Illinois families, including getting our economy back on track, and getting people back to work."
The commercial is part of a $500,000 independent expenditure by the American Unity PAC. The group was founded by hedge fund magnate Paul Singer.
Singer, a Republican gay rights advocate, originally said he was creating the PAC to encourage Republican candidates to support same-sex marriage. The new ad does not address that topic.
Both candidates have been generally supportive of gay rights. Biggert voted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" legislation. She voted against attempts to amend the Constitution to establish that marriage can only occur between one man and one woman. Foster opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions that provide same sex couples with the same legal rights heterosexual married couples receive.
The American Unity PAC's involvement is the biggest independent expenditure in the race to date. Up to now, the National Republican Congressional Committee had committed the biggest outside contribution in the race at about $266,000. All the independent expenditures reported in the race have been in opposition to Foster so far.