Photo by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog
The Michigan Advocacy Trust, a 527 group that it does not disclose its donors, has a new television ad out deceptively claiming that Democratic candidate for Attorney General Mark Totten “was never a real prosecutor” and had never handled a federal criminal case. The group is run by Richard McLellan, secretary of the board of directors for corporatist front group Mackinac Center. The claim that Totten was not a federal prosecutor is in direct opposition to former U.S. Attorney Don Davis’ confirmation in an interview with the Gongwer news service that Mark Totten was, in fact, a federal prosecutor.
The Totten campaign is calling for television stations to pull the deceptive ad:
Today Mark Totten’s campaign called on TV stations around Michigan to take down an advertisement paid for by the shadowy Michigan Advocacy Trust, a dark money group funded by unknown sources. The ad lies about Totten’s experience as a federal prosecutor, taking its lead from Bill Schuette’s desperate attempts to direct the narrative away from his career of pursuing right-wing crusades that leave everyone less safe.
“These lies show just how desperate Bill Schuette and his shadowy right-wing friends have become,” campaign manager John Keig said in a statement, “Because poll after poll shows that afters 30 years in office, Bill Schuette can’t get a majority of Michiganders willing to vote for him. They will try anything, and they are willing to lie in the process.”
The ad lies by saying Totten was not a “real” prosecutor, when former U.S. Attorney Don Davis previously said in very clear terms that Mark Totten was a federal prosecutor. (Gongwer, 9/26/14) The ad also claims that Mark Totten never handled a criminal case, but his arguments before the United States 6th Circuit are also on the public record. (U.S. v. Sanford, 2012; U.S. v. Woods, 2013; U.S. v. Sims, 2013; U.S. v. Young, 2012)
In addition to these established facts, Donald A. Davis, former United States Attorney also released a statement today reiterating his previous remarks: “Mark Totten served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and as such was a federal prosecutor. He performed at a high-level, like all our attorneys, and handled the challenging cases assigned to him well.”
The Michigan Advocacy Trust is a 527 group, meaning that it does not disclose its donors. It is run by Richard McLellan, secretary of the board of directors for the extreme, right-wing Mackinac Center. The MAT spent lavishly on Bill Schuette’s first run for attorney general, and has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars from undisclosed sources for ads this cycle.
Mark Totten has been endorsed by over thirty top law-enforcement officials across the state. In addition, he has been endorsed by the Michigan Association of Police and the Police Officers Labor Council, representing thousands of uniformed officers.
The Michigan Democratic Party is also denouncing the ads, pointing out that Bill Schuette has also run an ad featuring Eileen McNeill, described as an advocate for victims of trafficking praising Bill Schuette for his work on human trafficking. McNeill is a Republican party operative, former Outreach Vice Chair for the state Republican Party, and a public affairs consultant at a Grand Rapids public relations firm. They also note that, in 2010, Michigan Advocacy Trust spent over a million dollars to finance attack ads against Bill Schuette’s opponent. Michigan Advocacy Trust is run by Richard McLellan, secretary of the board of directors for the far-right Mackinac Center. The group has noted ties with special interests that have funded Bill Schuette’s 30 years in public office.
Joshua Pugh, Michigan Democratic Party Communications Director, issued this statement:
In order to support Bill Schuette and his extreme agenda, Schuette’s dark money cronies are willing to pour their money into lies about Mark Totten to distract from the issues. This ad is nothing but an attempt to distract from Schuette’s own resume inflation claiming that he has fought for victims, when just this week a federal judge called out Bill Schuette for his own inaction. Bill Schuette has lied about his own record, and now he’s lying about Mark Totten.
It’s one thing to stretch the truth or to exaggerate in a political ad. We have all come to expect that by now. But is entirely another thing for front group for corporate interests to go on the air with outright lies about a candidate.
It’s beyond disgusting.