A new veterans group is airing a television ad in the Philadelphia media market calling on Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick to “stop putting politics ahead of our country” and “hold the president accountable” over his dealings with Ukraine, the subject of the House impeachment inquiry.
In the ad, the veterans recite the oath they took to defend the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
“We kept our oath,” the veterans say. “Now Congressman Fitzpatrick has to keep his.”
The 30-second spot is part of a seven-figure advertising campaign launched Thursday in 14 congressional districts and Washington, D.C., by a group called Defend American Democracy, which says it was founded by veterans. A spokesperson for the group said it paid more than $250,000 for the ad buy on cable in the Philadelphia market.
It comes as the Democratic-controlled House prepares to begin public impeachment hearings next week.
“From Washington state to Washington, D.C., men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to stand up for our democracy are standing up again to call on Congress to do its constitutional duty — to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” Alan Pitts, a retired Army sergeant, wrote Thursday in USA Today.
Like all House Republicans, Fitzpatrick, of Bucks County, voted against a resolution last week that established the rules for the impeachment inquiry.
“Second only to declaring war, impeaching a president and overturning the results of an election is the most significant action that Congress can take,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement after the vote.
“Historical precedent demands that this only occurs in the most extreme circumstances, and should happen only after a formal law enforcement investigation where independent, nonpartisan factual findings of criminal activity are presented to Congress,” he said. “As this had not occurred, and as all proceedings to date have been held in secret and excluded 75% of Congress, today’s actions by the House have set a dangerous precedent for our nation.”
A spokesperson for Fitzpatrick didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Asked about its donors, a spokesperson for the veterans group described it as “a project/campaign of a broad coalition of organizations focused on national security and veterans issues, including Common Defense, the Truman National Security Project, Protect the Investigation, Protect Democracy, Law Works, Stand Up Republic, and National Security Action.”
On its website, Defend American Democracy says it is a “project of Protect the Investigation.”
Protect the Investigation describes itself as “a nonpartisan initiative to educate the American people” about the importance of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The initiative was funded at least in part by Sixteen Thirty Fund, a liberal nonprofit that in 2017 raised $79 million from anonymous donors, according to the Associated Press and the fund’s most recent publicly available tax filing.
Under the tax code, the group isn’t required to disclose its donors.
Sixteen Thirty Fund’s other projects have included Demand Justice, a group that fought the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court last year.
The fund’s president is Eric Kessler, a former Clinton administration official.
A House committee has been hearing private testimony from State Department officials and others who said the White House had conditioned nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine on that country’s willingness to open investigations that could damage Trump’s domestic political rivals.
Trump has dismissed the inquiry as a witch hunt.
Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent reelected last year to a second term despite GOP losses in other suburban areas, represents a swing district that Democrat Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election. Democrats are almost certain to spend millions of dollars targeting his district when he is up for reelection next year.
In Tuesday’s elections, Democrats took control of the Bucks County Board of Commissioners for the first time since 1983. That prompted House Democrats’ campaign arm to declare Fitzpatrick “vulnerable” in 2020.
The ad accuses Trump of “abusing his office and risking our national security.” It closes by listing a telephone number for Fitzpatrick’s congressional office. “Tell him to put country first," an Army veteran says, “because no one is above the law.”