Mystery PAC jumps in with ads attacking Timothy Hill — money in First District race nears $6M

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An attack ad released this week criticizing Timothy Hill is from a Georgia-based PAC – donor identifications aren’t yet available. (Screen capture from Admo)

WJHL – With Tennessee’s First Congressional District primary just a few days away, a new, PAC-funded negative TV ad came out against Timothy Hill, the candidate who’s benefited most from PAC money so far.

Fifteen candidates are vying for the opportunity to face Democrat Blair Walsingham in November. Republican Phil Roe announced in January he would retire after six terms in office.

The Made in America PAC, Inc. is behind the 30-second spot. The Georgia-based PAC, formed early this year, had supported just one candidate prior to its $100,015 spend with Capitol Strategy Group of Atlanta.

An FEC report showing the ad buy opposing Timothy Hill from the Made in America PAC.

The other candidate supported by the PAC, John Barge, placed third in the 14th District House Primary with just 8.8 percent of the vote.

The new ad ties Hill, who has represented the Third District in the Tennessee House of Representatives since 2012, to Club for Growth.

Club for Growth is a PAC that has endorsed him and put $945,000 behind his campaign with a combination of pro-Hill ads and attacks on opponents Diana Harshbarger, Rusty Crowe and Josh Gapp.

“The same people spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to prop up Timothy Hill also spent millions attacking President Trump,” the ad narrator begins.

The ad goes on to say the “DC insider special interest crowd” support Hill because he “is their type of career politician.”

The allegations are similar to those by the Harshbarger campaign in response to Club for Growth Action attack ads released against her. The Club for Growth has spent more than $360,000 opposing Harshbarger including a $237,500 TV ad buy.

The Club for Growth did oppose candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 primary. The heavy-spending PAC that says its primary goal is supporting economically conservative policies and politicians has had a change of heart since, with its director citing Trump’s adherence to Club for Growth ideals.

A Hill campaign spokesman had this to say about the late-breaking ad.

“This last minute, anonymously funded, and false attack on Timothy Hill is further evidence that he is leading the field because voters know he is the proven conservative in the race who (will) fight for President Trump and his agenda.”

PAC, negative ad spending high as race wraps up

The Made In America, Inc. PAC is the third to make so-called independent expenditures in the First District Race. Club for Growth’s spending dwarfs the others at $945,000, through its Club for Growth Action super PAC. Another mysterious PAC, the Bless Your Heart Coalition headquartered in Ohio, put $15,000 into negative ads against Harshbarger.

More than half of the Club for Growth’s spending has gone into negative ads. The Harshbarger campaign has also flooded the airwaves, social media and direct mail with negative ads. Gapp’s campaign has produced at least one negative TV/online ad.

Through Tuesday afternoon, the race had seen $4,856,142 raised by the candidates themselves and another $1,060,323 of independent expenditures by PACs.

In addition to independent expenditures, PACs had donated $105,400 directly to candidates. Candidates themselves — primarily Harshbarger, Gapp and Clark — had loaned $3,445,518 to their campaigns.

Individual donations accounted for $1,268,098 of the total raised in a race that’s nearing the $6 million mark in funding.

The last time a First District representative retired — in 2006 — a crowded primary campaign saw $4,186,792 spent. More than half of that, $2,190,383, came from the personal funds of Greeneville businessman Richard Roberts.

Roberts finished third in that race behind winner David Davis, who spent $253,407, and runner-up Richard Venable, who spent $521,796. He wasn’t far ahead of Roe, who spent $411,398 on the race and would go on to knock Davis off by a few hundred votes in the 2008 primary.

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