Former U. S. Sen. Norman Coleman, chief executive of a Republican-oriented "action network" that hopes to pour $25 million into this year's congressional campaigns, said yesterday that the group does not intend to disclose its funding sources.
Reached by telephone at the Washington headquarters of the group, the American Action Network, Coleman said that federal law doesn't require public disclosure of its contributors and the organization doesn't intend to disclose anything more.
"I think we're just going to do what the law requires," Coleman said. "We'll very clearly, explicitly, follow the letter of the law, and not discuss the funding."
When the Daily News asked whether it was appropriate to spend large amounts promoting political candidates without disclosing the sources of the money, Coleman said he was finishing up a meeting at his office and would have nothing more to say on the subject.
The National Journal reported last month that the group was trying to raise more than $25 million for this year's elections, looking to play a role in up to 10 U. S. Senate races and 25 House contests.
Coleman said the group intended to take advantage of a U. S. Supreme Court ruling in January, permitting corporations to make political contributions to influence federal campaigns.
His organization began running television ads in Philadelphia last week praising two incumbent congressmen, both Republicans: Jim Gerlach, whose district includes parts of Berks, Chester, Lehigh and Montgomery counties; and Charlie Dent, who represents Allentown, Bethlehem and other parts of Lehigh, Northampton, Berks and Montgomery counties.
Both Gerlach and Dent face potentially difficult elections this fall, in districts that were carried by Barack Obama in 2008 and by John Kerry four years earlier.
Gerlach's Democratic opponent is Manan Trivedi, a surgeon who commanded a Marine medical team at the outset of the war in Iraq. Dent is opposed by John Callahan, the mayor of Bethlehem the past six years.
The Action Network's ads were carefully designed to skirt disclosure requirements: by running so early in the election cycle, and not explicitly urging viewers to vote for Dent or Gerlach, the group avoids the disclosure requirements of the federal election commission.