Secret Donors Spend Millions to Intimidate Alabama Residents into Not Voting for Roy Moore

A mysterious super PAC that supports Doug Jones, the Democrat candidate for Senate in Alabama, has put out several ads that appear to be attempts to intimidate voters into not voting for Republican candidate Roy Moore.

The Birmingham-based super PAC, known as Highway 31, has spent almost $2 million putting out ads in the Senate race, “making it the single largest independent spender of the general-election contest,” according to The Daily Beast.

One of the ads calls Moore a “child predator,” referring to allegations that when he was in his 30s, Moore acted in a sexually inappropriate manner toward underage girls.

The ad warns Alabama voters that their vote is “public record,” thus arguing that if they decide on Moore, their communities will know.

“If you don’t vote, and Roy Moore — a child predator — wins, could you live with that? Your vote is public record and your community will know whether or not you helped stop Roy Moore,” a female narrator can be heard saying.

According to Breitbart, a shorter ad makes similar claims regarding the “public record” nature of the way Alabama citizens vote.

Though both ads direct viewers to visit Highway 31’s website, very little is known about the anti-Moore super PAC, particularly about the group’s donors.

Though super PACs are required by law to disclose their donors, Highway 31 has seemingly found a legal loophole.

The group’s ads have reportedly been financed via credit. In its Federal Election Committee filing, Highway 31 listed the debts it owes to the Democrat campaign vendors who made the ads, but the donors themselves are a secret.

The main vendors, Bully Pulpit Interactive and Waterfront Strategies, are both Democrat consulting firms based in Washington, D.C.

After the Senate campaign is over, it is possible that a donor could “contribute enough money to Highway 31 to pay off those debts,” according to The Daily Beast. Or, the vendors could forgive the debts, “in which case the services provided to the super PAC would be counted as in-kind contributions to the group.”

Until January, when the super PAC’s post-election FEC filing is made public, voters will have no idea who is funding Highway 31.

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Campaign finance experts were taken aback by the group’s methods.

“This is wild,” said Brendan Fischer, the director of FEC and federal reform programs at the Campaign Legal Center, an ethics watchdog group. “This looks like a blatant effort to dodge disclosure requirements. And it could have the effect of keeping voters in the dark about who is funding these ads until after Election Day.”

“I suspect that the vendors who created these ads will wait to invoice the campaign for a few weeks. And then, after Election Day has passed, some megadonor will drop a few million into the Highway 31 super PAC and pay off its debts,” he added.

Fischer went on to note that the strategy appears to be “a shady scheme to deprive voters of information about who is trying to influence them.”

But according to Alabama media consultant Adam Muhlendorf, who serves as the executive director of Highway 31, the super PAC has done nothing wrong. Instead, he said, it “continues to follow every appropriate rule and regulation.”

Many Moore supporters, though, were not amused by what they saw as intimidation tactics.

Officials with the Alabama secretary of state’s office have reportedly said they are looking into the ads in question to see if any laws were broken.

This post was last modified on March 14, 2018, 5:19 pm