Gen. David H. Petraeus isn’t alone as the target of an ad campaign by the group MoveOn.org.
Moveon.org, criticized in recent days for a newspaper ad questioning the general’s character, has spent more than $2 million against nearly a dozen Republicans since last year, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings.
The group spent more than $100,000 this year against Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. It also poured money into efforts against nearly a dozen Republicans locked in mostly close congressional races last year, federal records show.
MoveOn.org ranked third in the country among political action committees in total receipts from January 2005 to June 30, 2006, with $14.1 million. The group trailed only the pro-Democrat Emily’s List, which took in $20 million, and the Service Employees International Union, which reported $14.4 million.
The group has spent $5 million so far for the 2007-08 election cycle. Its latest disclosure report, totaling more than 13,000 pages, doesn’t appear to show how much it cost for a New York Times advertisement this week saying the general was “cooking the books” for the White House.
The ad, which ran after the group’s latest FEC filing, was headlined “General Petraeus or General Betray Us.”
Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club yesterday, Gen. Petraeus called portions of MoveOn.org’s ad “flat, completely wrong” and the rest “at least more than arguable.”
MoveOn.org spent heavily toward congressional campaigns against Republicans last year, according to FEC filings.
It reported more than $300,000 in independent expenditures against Rep. Melissa A. Hart, a Pennsylvania Republican who was defeated in the November election by Democrat Jason Altmire. By contrast, the group reported just $531 in independent expenditures on behalf of Mr. Altmire, FEC filings show.
MoveOn.org also targeted Rep. Thelma Drake, a Republican who retained her seat from Virginia. She called the MoveOn.org advertisement against Gen. Petraeus a political attack “to impugn the integrity of our men and women in uniform.”
The organization could not be reached for comment yesterday, but a message posted on its Web site defended the ad against Gen. Petraeus.
MoveOn.org, based in Berkeley, Calif., was formed in 1998 by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd to protest the “waste of tax dollars” in the impeachment of President Clinton. Their mission was to petition Congress to “move on to more pressing issues facing the nation.”
In December, MoveOn.org agreed to pay $150,000 to settle accusations that it failed to file federal disclosure reports. The agreement coincided with settlements the FEC reported with two other groups: the League of Conservation Voters and Swiftboat Veterans and POWs for Truth.
Last week, federal regulators requested more information from MoveOn.org about funds for catering, consulting, lodging and advertising, FEC records show.
MoveOn.org also has an affiliated charitable arm, MoveOn.org Civic Action, which reported $1.2 million in expenses to the Internal Revenue Service last year.
The group’s 2006 tax return lists accomplishments including helping Hurricane Katrina evacuees, protecting public financing for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System and working with other groups to “develop strategies for stopping the right-wing takeover of mass media.”
c Jerry Seper contributed to this story.