Shady Anti-Financial Reform Group using Ad Agency that Worked for Swift Boat Vets (w/Rachel Maddow Video: "The Men Behind the Curtain")

April 23, 2010

The group Stop Too Big To Fail, which is employing a liberal-sounding message to fight the Wall Street reform legislation, is working with an advertising agency whose past clients include the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and myriad GOP campaigns.

Stop Too Big To Fail this week announced a $1.6 million ad buy in Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia. The ads warn of a "bailout fund" and call on senators to "vote against this phony 'financial reform.'" The agency behind that ad is Mentzer Media, according to Kristen Waskie, a staffer at TeleRep, a Philadelphia firm which represents local TV stations and which has placed the financial reform ads in local markets. Waskie tells us the Stop Too Big To Fail ads came out of Mentzer, which is based in Towson, Maryland.

You've probably never heard of Mentzer, -- which describes itself as "expert at zeroing in on the correct audiences, the right markets, identifying the right media, [and] locking in at the right times" -- but in the world of political professionals, it's quite well known.

Mentzer has worked for GOP congressional candidates, the notorious 2004 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry, and the Chamber of Commerce in at least two states. Recently, Mentzer was in the news in California for being involved in attack ads against gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown put out by the California Chamber.

(In case you're wondering, national Chamber spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel told us "we are not giving [Stop Too Big To Fail] money.")

Mentzer was paid $40.6 million by Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, a huge 527 group devoted to helping Bush win the 2004 election called Progress for America Voter Fund, and a third conservative outfit, according to the Los Angeles Times. The firm is also listed in the directory of recommend companies of the National Association of Republican Campaign Professionals.

A person who answered the phone at Mentzer declined to comment and would not give her name.

Bob Johnson, co-founder of Stop Too Big To Fail and leader of its parent group, Consumers for Competitive Choice, which has a long history creating astroturf organizations, did not respond to a request for comment.

In a phone interview, Sam Zamarripa, the public face of Stop Too Big To Fail and the group's other co-founder, would not discuss Mentzer, or who is funding Stop Too Big To Fail. But he said, "I'm trying to make some real subtle points," adding, "you know what, it doesn't make any difference who buys our media."

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