Neocon Attack on Rand Paul Backfires: Consultant Behind Ads Angers Client Mitch McConnell

In April of this year, reported on a series of attack ads, funded by Lindsey Graham operative Rick Reed’s 501(c)(4) group The Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America and promoted by GOP consulting firm Black Rock Group, which implied that, if Senator Rand Paul were to become president, Iran would develop intercontinental ballistic missile technology and unleash a nuclear attack on the United States. Now, according to Politicoone of Black Rock Group’s co-founders, Carl Forti, is in trouble with another one of his clients, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, over the ads. An example of one of the anti-Paul commercials can be seen in the above-embedded YouTube player.

Forti also works as political director for American Crossroads, a client of Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund super PAC, which is working to expand the Republican Senate majority.

A McConnell aide, in light of recent revelations that the Senate Leadership Fund was paying a consultant to promote Senate Republicans who was at the same time profiting off of an ad campaign slamming one of those senators, lashed out at Forti. Said McConnell aide Brian McGuire, “Leader McConnell was of course not aware of this activity, but those involved should know that in his view it’s completely unacceptable, and that no consultant who makes a living attacking members of his conference who are running for reelection should expect to do any business with the party committees.”

Forti defended his decision to work on the Senate campaign while allowing one of his employees at Black Rock Group to promote the attack ad against Paul. Said Forti according to Politico, “I’m the one who works with Crossroads and Senate Leadership Fund, and [Black Rock Group employee Lisa Boothe] was acting as spokesperson for the group, so you got different people within a company here.”

American Crossroads CEO Steven Law said in his firm’s defense, “In the presidential primary, many of our consultants will be working for different candidates who are trying to win the nomination — it’s a fact of life that we and other groups are going to face. Our political conflicts test is going to be whether a consultant’s work for others prevents them from providing maximum effective service on what they do for us.”

Politico quoted a senior official at the National Republican Senatorial Committee who said about the potential conflict of interests, “What advisers do on the presidential level is their business, but if it starts affecting a 2016 Senate race, that is when we will have an issue.” In 2013, the National Republican Senatorial Committee blacklisted political consulting firm Jamestown Associates after it worked for Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, which ran attack ads against Senator Mitch McConnell.

An aide for Senator Paul said, “An ad shouldn’t be run against a Republican candidate for Senate by anyone who is working to help elect Republicans running for Senate.” Rand Paul himself said recently that the attack ads have not affected his poll numbers.

Interestingly, one of the ads, which previously appeared on a YouTube channel associated with The Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America, has been taken down by YouTube, apparently due to a copyright claim by photographer Gage Skidmore, a supporter of former Congressman Ron Paul who has taken many photographs of Rand Paul and other political figures in the past.