- Associated Press - Friday, May 22, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A conservative group has yanked television ads set to air Friday targeting U.S. Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart after the two Utah congressmen announced they share the group’s view that a federal export bank should be shut down.

The anti-tax group Club for Growth announced the broadcast and cable TV ads Thursday morning as part of a $1 million ad campaign in eight congressional districts urging lawmakers not to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

Late Thursday afternoon, the Club for Growth said it was pulling the ads that were set to air Friday. The group applauded Bishop and Stewart, who are Republicans, for releasing statements Thursday announcing their opposition to the bank.

Neither lawmaker mentioned the Club for Growth or its ads in their statements.

The Export-Import Bank, which subsidizes overseas purchases of U.S. exports, needs to be reauthorized by Congress before its charter expires at the end of June. Conservative critics say the bank uses too much of its credit assistance to help large companies like General Electric and the Boeing Co.

Democrats and groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce argue the bank supports tens of thousands of jobs and provides key loans and loan guarantees that allow overseas buys to pay for U.S. products.

Stewart, who represents Salt Lake City, western and south-central parts of Utah, said Friday that he has expressed concerns about the bank before and had already planned to vote against it. “All of this could have been avoided if the Club for Growth had asked about my position on the issue before they announced the potential ads,” Stewart said in a statement.

He also said the ending Export-Import Bank will help reduce the national debate and burdensome regulations.

Stewart’s office could not point to any past public declarations of his opposition to the bank but said he has expressed it in private meetings with individuals and groups.

Bishop, who represents northern Utah, said in a statement Thursday that he planned to oppose any effort to reapprove the bank. “While the intent of the Export-Import Bank decades ago may have been a good one, I believe it has drifted too far off course and has missed opportunities to reform, and so the time has come to let its authorization expire,” Bishop said.

Bishop’s spokesman Lee Lonsberry said Friday morning that Bishop had already decided that the bank should not continue by the time the Club for Growth announced its ads. Bishop came to that decision after meeting with groups arguing both sides of the issue, Lonsberry said.

Messages left with a Club for Growth spokesman were not immediately returned Friday morning.

Yándary Zavala, a spokeswoman for the Utah Democratic Party, said the Club for Growth ads were “just another example of outside money having an influence in Utah politics.” She said the party did not have a stance on the bank’s reauthorization.

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