- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust is attacking Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in a new six-figure ad buy for his alleged hypocrisy over his gripes about “dark money” affecting politics and the federal judiciary.

The term “dark money” refers to the funding for groups that are not required to disclose their donors. Mr. Whitehouse is a vocal liberal critic of the effect of dark money on American politics, particularly during President Trump’s tenure, and is chairing a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday titled, “What’s Wrong with the Supreme Court: The Big-Money Assault on Our Judiciary.” 

Ahead of the hearing, Americans for Public Trust said Wednesday it is running its ad for 10 days in the D.C. market that rips Mr. Whitehouse’s “rules for thee and not for me bit” about his own dark money ties. 

Sheldon Whitehouse has a dirty little secret,” says a narrator in the 30-second ad. “He relentlessly attacks dark money, harping on its supposed evils, but at the same time, he is backed by liberal dark money. A lot of it. A whole lot of it.”

A second voice in the ad whispers, “What’s he hiding?” and “Hypocrite” while black-and-white images of Mr. Whitehouse flash on the screen. The ad also accuses Mr. Whitehouse of having liberal dark money groups as his “biggest allies.” 

“All of my funding is fully disclosed as required by law,” the Rhode Island Democrat said in a statement to The Washington Times. “But if this dark money group has an issue with dark money groups that back my political positions, I hope they join me in fighting for my bills to get dark money out of our politics and courts. I would welcome their support!” 

Americans for Public Trust Executive Director Caitlin Sutherland, former National Republican Congressional Committee research director, said in a statement that she has a hard time taking Mr. Whitehouse seriously given liberal groups’ influence. 

“Mr. Whitehouse may have a gavel and chair a subcommittee, but he’s living in a world all his own,” Ms. Sutherland said.

Americans for Public Trust previously joined a conservative advocacy coalition spending $2 million to attack President Biden’s nominees and the dark money allegedly assisting the confirmation effort. Other groups participating in that ad campaign beginning last month are not required to disclose their donors. 

Americans for Public Trust spent $600,000 on that advertising campaign, while Heritage Action for America and the Judicial Crisis Network each spent six-figure sums on ads as well. 

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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