The American Future Fund (AFF) is a 501(c)(4) organization that bills itself as an institution designed to “elect candidates who reflect our values through a variety of activities aimed at influencing the outcome of the next election.” Its latest ad takes aim at Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) and is focused on the subject of the proposed Park 51 Islamic community center that is going to be built near Ground Zero in New York City.
The ad ominously warns that, “for centuries, Muslims built mosques where they won military victories. Now, they want to build a mosque at Ground Zero…It’s like the Japanese building at Pearl Harbor.” It goes on to say that the “Muslim cleric building the mosque believes America was partly responsible for 9/11, and is raising millions overseas from secret donors.” It then says, “Bruce Braley supports building a mosque at Ground Zero.” Watch it:
Many of the ad’s claims are offensive, some are wildly misleading and others are outright lies. The Sufi Muslim founders of Park 51 have no connection to Muslim conquerors (Muslims do not think as a hivemind) in Europe centuries ago, and aren’t building a mosque at Ground Zero — they’re building an Islamic community center two blocks away from the site of the attacks. As even the conservative Daily Caller admits, “you can’t even see the [site] from there!” The Japanese actually have built in the area of Pearl Harbor, with a few Shinto and Buddhist shrines near the location of the Japanese attack that occurred decades ago.
Park 51’s Imam Abdul Rauf did not say America was responsible for 9/11. He called the attacks a “crime” that America did not deserve, and merely noted that certain American policies have served to radicalize Muslims over the years, an admission also made by Donald Rumsfeld’s Defense Department and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). And Rauf is not “raising millions overseas from secret donors.” His organization has barely even started fundraising for the project — the last financial report filed with the state found that it had raised $18,255 so far.
To be able to put out a misleading ad smearing a minority group like the one above, AFF turned to a dubious cast of “experts.” One of the organization’s key media strategists is Larry McCarthy, who is president of media firm McCarthy Marcus Hennings. “In 1988, McCarthy produced the infamous, racially tinged Willie Horton television ad” in the Dukakis-Bush race that helped tank the Dukakis campaign by ginning up racial animus against African-Americans.
AFF’s founder Nick Ryan confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) that McCarthy produced the ad. Ryan also told CPI that McCarthy “does a lot of ads for the fund.”
Unfortunately, AFF is far from a fringe organization. This special interest group using racially-charged ads has deep ties to the Republican establishment. Although it has scrubbed its official website of the details of its lecture series, a search through its web cache reveals that in recent months it has hosted such GOP heavyweights as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Iowa Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad.