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Progressive veterans group launches pro-McCaskill TV spot, Republican Party decries spending

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 29, 2012 - VoteVets.org, a progressive veterans group, has a launched a TV ad campaign in St. Louis and Kansas City on behalf of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

The ad is the first independent spot to air in support of McCaskill, who is seeking re-election this fall and has been  pummeled for months with various independent attack ads, coming from such groups as Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Such independent groups do not face the donation restrictions imposed on candidates, and often do not have to disclosure their donors.  Their spending does not count as a campaign donation as long as the activity is not coordinated with the candidate.

The VoteVets ad lauds McCaskill as one who's "got our back."  The spot also fits in with one of McCaskill’s key issues, as a senator and in her campaign.  McCaskill sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and has be an outspoken advocate on veterans issues. Among other things, she has been active in the improvements and changes mandated for the Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis.

Last Sunday, she held a forum in St. Louis with various area veterans’ groups.

UPDATE: The Missouri Republican Party has verbally fired back, by noting that McCaskill has criticized campaign spending by outside groups -- and her first campaign TV spot focused on that topic.  The state GOP asserted that the senator would be guilty of "hypocrisy" unless she condemns the VoteVets' spot.

"For years, Claire McCaskill has feigned outrage over political spending by outside interest groups that she accuses of trying to "buy your government"—but now that she is benefiting from an outside interest group funded by radical environmentalists, she is strangely silent," the state GOP said in a statement.

"To make matters worse for McCaskill, the nonpartisan OpenSecrets.org has investigated VoteVets and unmasked the interest groups behind it. As it turns out, VoteVets has raked in millions of dollars from radical environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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