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Samantha Lachman   |   September 16, 2014   11:53 AM ET

The conservative Club for Growth said Tuesday that it would support Zach Dasher, a businessman with ties to the infamous "Duck Dynasty" family and one of Rep. Vance McAllister's (R-La.) Republican challengers.

The group announced its endorsement of Dasher while referencing the scandal over video of a kiss between McAllister, who is married, and a member of his staff.

“Everyone in Louisiana knows about Vance McAllister’s personal problems, but far less is known about his extremely liberal record,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement. “When he ran for Congress last year, Vance McAllister pushed for expanding Obamacare in Louisiana and told voters ‘we’re past the point of repealing’ it. In Congress, Vance McAllister has voted against numerous efforts to cut federal spending and he voted for a budget that contained billions in taxes. Vance McAllister’s love of big-government policies is yet another reason to replace him with fiscal conservative Zach Dasher this November.”

Dasher is the nephew of "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson. McAllister has his own ties to the family: Robertson's son Willie starred in an ad for McAllister last year, and was the representative's guest at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

Though McAllister initially said he would not run for re-election after video of him kissing the staffer emerged in April, he changed his mind in June and announced that he would seek to defend his seat.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has called McAllister an "embarrassment." The Club for Growth's decision to back his challenger only furthers his alienation within the Republican Party.

Dasher and McAllister will face off in Louisiana's nonpartisan primary Nov. 4. If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote, the race to represent the district will proceed to a December runoff.

The McAllister campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amanda Terkel   |   September 16, 2014   10:53 AM ET

Alaska GOP Senate candidate Dan Sullivan announced Monday that he will be voting for a state ballot measure to increase the minimum wage, even though he had said during the Republican primary that he opposed boosting it.

"Because it is a state-driven initiative, I do support the motion to place a minimum wage question directly to the people of Alaska, and I personally intend to vote for it," Sullivan told The Wall Street Journal. He still, however, does not think it should be raised at the federal level.

Alaska's ballot measure would raise the state minimum wage, which is currently set at $7.75, by $2 over two years and adjust it for inflation from then on.

But during a debate in January, Sullivan -- while still trying to win his party's nomination -- said he didn't believe raising the minimum wage would solve any problems in the economy.

"Simply raising the minimum wage isn't an answer; it's an acknowledgement of President Obama's broken promises and failed economic policies," he said. "Strengthening job growth and wages in America begins with empowering small business owners, lowering taxes, cutting red tape and seizing upon an energy policy that promotes Alaskan resource development, not undermine it."

A Sullivan spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that he changed his mind because he "had a chance to read the minimum wage initiative" and now believes "Alaskans are better positioned to decide for themselves what the prevailing wage should be in their state."

Sen. Mark Begich's (D-Alaska) campaign quickly criticized Sullivan's shift, saying it shows he'll "say or do anything" to win.

"From the minimum wage to the Violence Against Women Act, Dan Sullivan won't be honest with Alaskans about what he believes on core issues," said spokesman Max Croes. "Dan Sullivan has always dismissed the needs of Alaska's working families who would benefit from a increase in the federal minimum wage and his most recent attempt to flip-flop proves he'll say or do anything in an attempt to deceive Alaskans. Mark Begich knows the importance of paying workers a fair living wage and remains the only candidate in this election that supports raising the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work."

Begich supports the state minimum wage increase, as well as one on the federal level that would raise the wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

HuffPost Pollster, which averages all the publicly available polling in a race, has Begich leading Sullivan:

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Samantha Lachman   |   September 15, 2014   11:22 AM ET

U.S. Senate candidate and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) goes skeet-shooting in her campaign's latest television ad in an attempt to make it clear that she's "not Barack Obama."

The ad, released Monday, has Grimes firing critiques toward her opponent, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), as she shoots clay pigeons. She refers to a mix-up in a McConnell web video that featured an image of the Duke University Blue Devils instead of the University of Kentucky Wildcats as well as a comment he made about whether it was his responsibility to stimulate local economic development.

“Mitch McConnell wants you to think I’m Barack Obama,” she says in the ad. “Mitch is the same guy who thought Duke Basketball players were UK! Or who’s attacking me on coal, after doing next to nothing while we’ve lost thousands of coal jobs. He even said it’s not his job to bring jobs to Kentucky.”

Given Obama's dismal approval ratings in Kentucky -- hovering around 30 percent -- the spot marks an effort to combat Republican attacks that she'd side with the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

“I disagree with [the president] on guns, coal and the EPA," Grimes explains.

After the ad flashes a photo of McConnell carrying a musket onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Grimes quips "that’s not how you hold a gun."

Grimes has now joined a club of candidates who have featured guns in their campaign ads, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) as well as Republican Senate hopefuls such as former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R) and Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R).

McConnell leads Grimes by just over 4 percentage points, according to HuffPost Pollster, which combines all publicly available polling data.

Michael McAuliff   |   September 12, 2014    1:53 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Leaders of Koch brothers-linked groups were so incensed that a farmer's association endorsed the Senate campaign of Iowa Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley that they're apparently trying to punish the farmers.

Braley won the backing of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, which announced last week that it favors his stance on farm policy over that of his Republican opponent, Joni Ernst.

The association is one of the most influential farmers' groups in Iowa, and endorses candidates regardless of party affiliation.

But the choice didn't sit well with Sandy Greiner, a Republican Iowa state senator. Greiner is president of the American Future Fund, a group that spent some $30 million last election cycle -- nearly all raised from the network built by the billionaire Koch brothers -- attacking Democrats or backing Republicans.

The group been mostly quiet since it was accused of funneling $4 million to an anti-labor ballot initiative in California.

But Greiner, who is a farmer herself, seems to be going after the corn growers.

According to screen grab provided to HuffPost by a Braley backer, Greiner posted a message on Facebook the day after the Sept. 2 endorsement, saying that farm families who disagree with the selection should consider "requesting a refund of your Corn Checkoff assessment," money that goes to the association.

Then, the political action committee of the American Future Fund upped the ante, commissioning a string of robo-calls to members of the Iowa Corn Growers Association that instructed them to call a specific official at the group to complain of the endorsement and ask for their money back.

“This is Brenda with American Future Fund PAC," said the Sept. 5 call, according to a transcript provided to HuffPost. "As you may have heard, the Iowa Corn Growers PAC just announced their endorsement of Bruce Braley for U.S. Senate. That’s right –- Bruce Braley, the very same man who slammed Senator Chuck Grassley for being a farmer. Farmers are the lifeblood of Iowa’s economy. And we think it’s important you know that the Iowa Corn Growers are using money raised from their donors –- hardworking farmers like you –- to support the liberal Braley, who voted for cap-and-trade legislation that would devastate Iowa farms. This cannot stand."

"Tell them that they should be supporting farmers, not trial lawyers. And if you remember, request a refund of your checkoff dollars," the spot continues. It concludes, "This call is paid for by American Future Fund PAC and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.”

The call's mention of Grassley (R-Iowa) is a reference to Braley's description of him as a "farmer with no law degree." Republicans tried to use that remark to turn farmers against the Democrat. The corn association endorsement apparently undercuts that effort, and suggests the farmers who make up the group's membership are happy with Braley's record.

Greiner said via email that she is not affiliated with the American Future Fund PAC, despite being the president of the American Future Fund. She did not immediately answer a question about why she posted on Facebook about the corn growers.

Nick Ryan, the chairman of the PAC, said via email that his group is separate from Greiner's, and that he was responsible for the calls. The groups' websites are linked to one another and promote the same television ads. He also did not explain why he was targeting the farmers, but took the opportunity to slam Braley.

"Bruce Braley has a history of voting for big government policies that harm Iowa farmers," Ryan said, adding that Braley voted against a bill last week that would prevent the EPA from expanding enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

Planned Parenthood Ad Hits GOP Candidates On OTC Birth Control

Laura Bassett   |   September 12, 2014   12:18 PM ET

In its first TV ad buy of the 2014 cycle, Planned Parenthood's political arm is warning voters in North Carolina and Colorado that Republican Senate candidates' support for over-the-counter birth control is not what it seems.

Two new ads target North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), two of several GOP Senate candidates who have endorsed making birth control pills available without a prescription, rather than requiring employers to cover the full range of contraception in their health care plans.

"Just when insurance is finally covering the cost of prescription birth control, Thom Tillis says no -- women should pay the 600 dollars a year," the North Carolina ad says. "His plan lets insurance companies off the hook and costs North Carolina families more. Look closer and you'll see that Thom Tillis isn't being honest with us, and he's turning the pill into yet another bill."

Planned Parenthood Votes announced on Friday that it's investing $500,000 in TV ads for the Raleigh, North Carolina, media market and $400,000 for the Denver market. The first two ads are part of a broader campaign to highlight the differences between Republicans and Democrats on women's reproductive health issues.

Most Republican candidates, including Tillis and Gardner, oppose a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires most employers to cover contraception in their health insurance plans. But in an effort to woo women voters, four Republican Senate candidates -- Tillis, Gardner, Ed Gillespie in Virginia and Mike McFadden in Minnesota -- have recently touted their support for over-the-counter birth control as an alternative to mandatory insurance coverage of the pill.

Gardner, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, began running an ad last week that claims his over-the-counter plan is "cheaper and easier" for women than the Democrats' plan.

"What’s the difference between me and Mark Udall on contraception?" Gardner says in the ad. "I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, around the clock, without a prescription. Cheaper and easier for you. Mark Udall’s plan is different. He wants to keep government bureaucrats between you and your health care plan. That means more politics and more profits for drug companies. My plan means more rights, more freedom and more control for you."

PolitiFact rated the ad "mostly false," noting that Gardner's plan would drive up costs for more expensive forms of birth control, like the increasingly popular intrauterine device.

Tillis and Gardner have both come under fire from abortion-rights groups for their controversial positions on reproductive issues. Both candidates oppose legal abortion and have supported fetal personhood measures, which would grant personhood rights to zygotes from the moment of fertilization. Such measures would ban abortion entirely and could ban some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.

While Planned Parenthood and doctors' groups agree that birth control pills should be available without a prescription, they do not see the plan as a worthy substitute for insurance coverage of contraception.

"OTC availability of oral contraceptives will help more women get the contraceptives they need, which have long been proven safe enough to use without a prescription -- especially emergency contraception," said John C. Jennings, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

"We feel strongly, however, that OTC access to contraceptives should be part of a broader dialogue about improving women's health care, preventing unintended pregnancies, and increasing use of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)," he said. "Over-the-counter access should not be used as a political tool by candidates or by elected officials."

Samantha Lachman   |   September 12, 2014   11:00 AM ET

Though First Lady Michelle Obama will almost certainly not be running for the U.S. Senate in 2016, that doesn't mean a Republican senator up for re-election isn't willing to invoke her name in fundraising appeals.

As the Chicago Sun-Times first reported Thursday, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) cited the "press and rumor mills" when asking donors for money to build up an advantage against the specter of an Obama challenge.

"The press and rumor mills ponder the ‘will she or won’t she’ question with regard to Michelle Obama...and the circumstances (and denials) are reminiscent of 1999 when First Lady Hillary Clinton was the subject of whirlwind speculation about a run for the United States Senate," he wrote in a Sept. 5 fundraising letter.

"Whether or not you choose to believe this most recent rumor, there is no doubt the Illinois Senate race will be one of the most closely watched and hotly contested races in the country in 2016," Kirk added.

The problem is that Kirk's letter doesn't appear to have a basis in reality. When President Barack Obama was asked on “Live With Kelly and Michael,” about the possibility of his wife seeking elected office, he responded, “One thing I can promise you is that Michelle will not run for office.”

Michelle Obama confirmed that answer, telling ABC’s Robin Roberts that her "next act" will not be a political one.

To top it all off, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett said on NBC’s "Meet the Press" that she was "100 percent positive" that Obama will never run for elected office.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) has been mentioned as a potential Kirk challenger, so she may start appearing in his fundraising solicitations as 2016 nears.

Colorado GOP Candidates Attended Event Hosted By Sandy Hook Shooting Truther

Samantha Lachman   |   September 11, 2014    5:04 PM ET

Given that Colorado has had its fair share of mass shootings, the fact that two high-profile Republicans there attended an event with a candidate for local office who has expressed doubts about whether the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting really happened might strike some voters as insensitive.

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is running to unseat Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), and former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.), who is challenging Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), attended an Aug. 24 Republican Party steak fry at the home of Dr. Tom Ready, a candidate for Pueblo County Commissioner. Photos of the event were shared on Facebook.

In a Sept. 10 debate, Ready's Democratic opponent asked him why he had shared an article on Facebook claiming that the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 26 people was actually a hoax arranged by the federal government to advance gun control policies.

"There is some question whether it really happened," Ready responded.

As the crowd booed, Ready explained his theory.

"Some people in the videos, thank you very much, if you recall, there was a picture of a man walking in whose daughter had died. He was smiling and joking. When he walked into the room he turned and all of a sudden had tears in his eyes. Why? I question that."

“I don’t think [the Sandy Hook shootings have] been proven," he added. "And what’s wrong with open discussion?”

Ready told the Pueblo Chieftain after the debate that he did not remember posting the link, but that "it would not be the first time I put something out there for discussion."

Ready's views seem to have been inspired by websites questioning whether the parents of the children slain at Sandy Hook demonstrated adequate amounts of grief in the wake of the shooting.

Neither Gardner's nor Beauprez's campaigns responded to requests for comment.

Igor Bobic   |   September 10, 2014    2:58 PM ET

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday denied that he had changed his views about expanding the campaign against Islamic State militants in the Middle East.

The Weekly Standard caught up with the Kentucky Republican on Capitol Hill and inquired about his hawkish turn toward advocating for more airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

TWS: Senator Paul, could you say what's changed in the last couple months in your thinking on ISIS? You were still uncertain about bombing back in August. Now you support it. What in your mind has changed?

PAUL: I still have exactly the same policy. And that is that intervention militarily should be through an act of Congress.

But while it's true that Paul has always said Congress should approve military action, his response fails to address the fact that he's changed his views on whether or not the U.S. should ultimately intervene.

In June, following President Barack Obama's decision to send military advisers to Iraq, Paul argued against intervention in the war-torn country, in part by raising concerns that any airstrikes would effectively turn the U.S. into "Iran's air force." Later that month, after Obama announced that the U.S. would carry out airstrikes to defend ethnic minorities threatened by militants, Paul said he had "mixed feelings" about the operation. By September, Paul had completely shed the trappings of libertarian non-interventionism and endorsed bombing the Islamic State, arguing that "Peace through Strength," a motto of former President Ronald Reagan, "only works if you have and show strength."

"I’ve said since I began public life that I am not an isolationist, nor am I an interventionist," he wrote in Time. "I look at the world, and consider war, realistically and constitutionally."

By denying that he changed his position, Paul is employing the same tactic he used when trying to neutralize the controversy over his stance on the Civil Rights Act. This summer, Paul denied ever objecting to parts of the landmark legislation, even though fact-checkers have concluded that he was trying to "essentially erase what he said in 2010."

At least one fellow Republican is unconvinced by Paul's act. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, another presidential aspirant, unloaded on Paul last week for "trying to convince Americans that he was against U.S. intervention before he was for it."

"The Kentucky senator is trying to tell us he’s not an isolationist," he wrote in Politico. "That dog won’t hunt."

Samantha Lachman   |   September 9, 2014   12:20 PM ET

Dr. Monica Wehby, the Republican pediatric neurosurgeon challenging Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), made history Tuesday as the first GOP Senate candidate to run a statewide ad expressing her support for marriage equality.

As Politico first reported, Wehby's ad stars Ben West, who served as a plaintiff in the lawsuit that struck down the state's constitutional ban against same-sex marriage earlier this year.

“Marrying my husband was the happiest day of my life,” West says in the ad. “I was proud of Oregon and our country. But there’s a lot of work left to do. Whether it’s standing up for equality or for the unemployed or for the next generation, we need leaders who have the courage to do what’s right. That’s why I support Monica Wehby. I know she’ll fight for every Oregon family, including mine.”

The ad shows images from West's wedding and closes with a picture of him, his husband and their child.

However, Wehby has taken a variety of positions on marriage equality and LGBT-related issues that stand in contrast with her new campaign ad. When asked in May whether she supported changing the state's constitution to allow same-sex marriage, Wehby suggested that the government should not interfere.

"I think this is an issue of personal freedom," she told Oregon Public Broadcasting Radio. "And I don’t think the government should be involved in those personal decisions.”

The Merkley campaign has also criticized her for hedging about whether to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. After Wehby refused to say whether she supported the legislation during an interview with a conservative radio host in June, her campaign reaffirmed her support for the measure in an interview with the Oregonian.

Wehby's ad is the only Senate spot this cycle to mention her support for marriage equality. If she were to beat Merkley, she'd become just the fifth Republican senator in Congress' upper chamber who supports same-sex marriage, joining Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).

Wehby faces an uphill climb in deep-blue Oregon, where a Republican hasn't been elected to the U.S. Senate since 2002. HuffPost Pollster, which combines all publicly available polling data, shows Wehby trailing Merkly by 15 percentage points.

Samantha Lachman   |   September 5, 2014   12:53 PM ET

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is beginning to give a more definitive timeline for when she'll decide whether to run for president, according to Reuters.

"I am going to be making a decision ... probably after the first of the year about whether I'm going to run again or not," Clinton said at a Friday charity event hosted by Carlos Slim, the world's second-richest man, in Mexico City.

A CNN reporter at the event tweeted that she said she has a "unique vantage point" on the presidency.

In June, Clinton explained that she could consider forgoing a presidential run to focus on being a grandmother, and because she's enjoying the life she has outside the White House and presidential Cabinet.

A month earlier, President Barack Obama said he thought Clinton would be a "very effective" president, were she to run.

Clinton has a number of events planned in support of Democratic candidates up for election in November, and continues to promote her memoir, Hard Choices, as she stokes presidential speculation.

Samantha Lachman   |   September 5, 2014   12:07 PM ET

Former San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio (R) may feel a little more than stung by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's endorsement of his Democratic opponent.

The Chamber's national political director, Rob Engstrom, took to Twitter late Thursday night to chide DeMaio's business bona fides, saying that the candidate's campaign is "imploding" and that he's "pretending to be pro-business." DeMaio is running to unseat Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) in the San Diego-area 52nd District.

Engstrom's tweets appeared to be aimed at the DeMaio campaign's response to the group's endorsement. After the Chamber's announcement, campaign spokesman Dave McCulloch said Wednesday that the group endorsed Peters to maintain the status quo in Washington, D.C.

“We’re not surprised that a special interest group in D.C. is trying to protect members of Congress -- they like the system the way it is," McCulloch said. "They know Carl DeMaio is coming to end the perks for this crowd."

According to the Chamber's scorecard, Peters voted for their priorities 69 percent of the time in 2013. The endorsement is all the more rare since the group backed then-Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) against Peters in 2012.

Only one of the other four Democrats with the Chamber's backing, Rep. John Barrow (Ga.), faces a serious Republican challenger this cycle.

Though Peters has the Chamber's endorsement, he has been attacked by Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS nonprofit.

This story has been updated to note that on Friday the Chamber endorsed a fifth Democratic candidate, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.).

Michael McAuliff   |   September 4, 2014    1:13 PM ET

Scott Brown, the former Republican senator from Massachusetts who is running to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in New Hampshire, is again talking up his long service in the National Guard, suggesting it taught him how to run a "frontal attack."

Brown first enlisted in the National Guard in 1979, according to his memoir, Against All Odds. He left an infantry unit in the 1990s to become a military lawyer, he wrote, explaining that with a wife and kids, "It was becoming less enticing to spend weekends in the woods."

He never served in combat, according to a detailed review by the Boston Globe. The closest he came was a week of training in Afghanistan in 2011, while he was in office. He also did lots of legal work for service members, and during his Senate career he served in the Pentagon as a colonel in the Maryland National Guard.

Still, he gave the impression Wednesday in a campaign question-and-answer session in Hudson, New Hampshire, that he was a bit more combat-seasoned than that. Criticizing President Barack Obama's efforts cutting costs and reshaping the military as "incoherent," Brown suggested he would do better because of his experience.

"That's why we need someone in there with military experience to do that, who understands what an 11 Bravo [infantryman] is, and what's the composition of a rifle company, and how do you lead a frontal attack. Those are the things that we need to be aware of," Brown said.

Presumably Brown's "weekends in the woods" included training on assault techniques, even if he never participated in a frontal attack himself. Brown also was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In response to questions about Brown’s comments, his campaign sent along a copy of the afterword that he added to his memoir after returning from the Afghan training trip. It begins with this excerpt, which doesn't mention any frontal attacks by Brown:

Seven p.m., and not quite dusk at Bagram Airfield, a collection of runways, prefab buildings, and barbed wire checkpoints northwest of Kabul on a dry, dusty flatland with the Hindu Kush mountains rising up in the background. I was watching some guys play street hockey and getting something to eat. The whole setup is kind of like a boardwalk, except that this valley is about as far as you can possibly get from the salty smells of the ocean. I was eating, trying to memorize a bit of the feel of Afghanistan before I hopped on a transport plane for the flight south to Kuwait, when I heard the first boom. It was off in the distance, just a slight explosion, a bit of a shake to the ground. There was a pause, then a second blast, this one closer, rattling the walls and the tables. A spilt second passed, and then we all heard the wail of the siren. Soldiers dropped their hockey sticks and left their food on their plates. They started hitting the ground, the dust swirling up as they dove for cover. I dropped too, and then another blast came, this one maybe 700 or 800 meters away, close enough to glimpse the bright flash of light. A bunch of us took off at a dead run toward a nearby bunker as another mortar raked and rocked the ground. We spent an hour in a secured building while teams cleared the airport of enemy ordnance still on the tarmac.

Three hours later, my flight was in the sky, but the street hockey players, the guys in the chow line, the guys who drive the trucks, fly the planes, the maintenance workers, the flight ground crews were all still there. This is their reality, if not every day then often enough.

This article was updated after publication with an excerpt from Brown's memoir.

Laura Bassett   |   September 4, 2014   12:43 PM ET

The Pennsylvania attorney general's office paid a $15,000 settlement to a female agent who accused executives of sharing pornographic emails and making derogatory comments to women while Tom Corbett, who is now the state's Republican governor, was in charge.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that the agent, Dianne Buckwash, alleged in a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the men in the attorney general's office held all the power, women were rarely promoted and executives in the Criminal Law Division were known to email around photos of nude women and "adults engaged in sex acts." Buckwash said the events occurred during the administrations of then-Attorney General Corbett, who served from 1995 to 1997 and 2005 to 2010, and Linda Kelly, who served as attorney general in 2011 and 2012.

Corbett declined to comment to the Tribune-Review and Buckwash couldn't be reached, but Kevin Harley, Corbett's former press secretary, said there were "many females who were promoted into leadership in law enforcement." He suggested that Buckwash sued because she was passed over for a promotion.

Pennsyvania's current attorney general, Democrat Kathleen Kane, signed the $15,000 settlement agreement, in which the office denied paying Buckwash less and overlooking her for promotions based on her gender.

The news of the settlement is not helpful to Corbett, who is trying to appeal to women voters in Pennsylvania ahead of a tough race in November. Corbett recently touted his proposal to change his state's liquor laws to make it easier for women to prepare dinner.

"I think a lot of people want to be able to walk into a grocery store, particularly, a lot of the women, want to go and buy a bottle of wine for dinner, go down, buy a six-pack or two six-packs, buy dinner and go home rather than what I described as three stops in Pennsylvania," he said.

AFL-CIO Launches 'Koch Sisters' Campaign To Counter Billionaire Brothers

Christina Wilkie   |   September 4, 2014   12:34 PM ET

WASHINGTON - One of the nation's largest labor unions on Thursday launched a coordinated campaign to highlight the differences between average Americans and the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

The "Koch Sisters" campaign features Joyce Koch and Karen Koch, two women who are not actually sisters, but who share the same last name. Karen Koch, 51, teaches in the business department of Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan. Joyce Koch, 71, is a retired social worker in Lumberton, New Jersey.

The campaign profiles the two women in ads set to air in battleground states and on cable news. There's also a website that draws a sharp contrast between the billionaires and the two middle-aged women.

Trading off lines, the two Kochs open one of the videos saying, "We're not sisters, but we're sisters in spirit. We're not related to the Koch brothers, those right-wing billionaires. We're just two average women who have raised families and have worked hard all our lives."

“For years, the Koch Brothers have epitomized how corporations and the super-rich have tried to systematically destroy our democracy,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement. “Today, they’re finally meeting their match.”

The AFL-CIO has more than 12 million members and plenty of money to spend on political issues. That the union should launch a campaign similar to Democrats' widespread attempts to vilify the billionaire industrialists comes as little surprise, but it underscores how pervasive the anti-Koch brothers message will be on the left this fall.

A spokesman for Koch Industries did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

AFL-CIO communications director Eric Hauser said supporters can become Koch Sisters themselves by signing up for email updates on the campaign and other union efforts.

Hauser wouldn't reveal how much the group planned to spend on the ads, which will initially run in Michigan and Kentucky -- where hotly contested Senate races are currently underway -- and in Washington, D.C. He did say the campaign would be expanding in the lead-up to November's midterm elections.