05/17/2012 06:55 pm ET

HUFFPOST FUNDRACE -- A Metro-Sexual, Black Abe Lincoln

Whose chickens just came home to roost? A billionaire and a Republican ad man with a propensity for eye-catching absurdity get together to try and plan an attack on Barack Obama. What could go wrong? The New York Times reports, "A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the “super PAC” era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from. ...The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign. 'The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,' says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics."

Great idea, right? After the story came out Ricketts' super PAC, Ending Spending Fund, attempted to lead block for the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade: "Joe Ricketts is a registered independent, a fiscal conservative, and an outspoken critic of the Obama Administration, but he is neither the author nor the funder of the so-called 'Ricketts Plan' to defeat Mr. Obama that The New York Times wrote about this morning. Not only was this plan merely a proposal – one of several submitted to the Ending Spending Action Fund by third-party vendors – but it reflects an approach to politics that Mr. Ricketts rejects and it was never a plan to be accepted but only a suggestion for a direction to take. Mr. Ricketts intends to work hard to help elect a President this fall who shares his commitment to economic responsibility, but his efforts are and will continue to be focused entirely on questions of fiscal policy, not attacks that seek to divide us socially or culturally."

Fred Davis said, "The document referred to in today’s New York Times story was one proposal prepared and submitted by Strategic Perception Inc. The Ricketts family never approved it, and nothing has happened on it since the presentation. The vendors listed were as proposed, and had nothing to do with this proposal."

The LA Times has all the other consultants mentioned in the report distancing themselves from the plan.

TD Ameritrade said, "We respect the right of people to have their opinions, but as a company we can’t take sides. Really what we’re about is helping our clients, that’s the message we’re telling people today."

The progressive group Americans United for Changereplied by telling their 50,000 members, "Online stock broking juggernaut TD Ameritrade, which boasts 6 million customers, is frantically trying to distance themselves from the proposed $10 million smut campaign. But the man who commissioned the proposal, Joe Ricketts, founded the company and remains a major stakeholder. It’s time we send a message with our wallets to Ricketts and any corporate suit out there thinking about putting some skin in the game of politics of personal destruction: If you have money in TD Ameritrade, pull it out and take your business elsewhere."

Mitt Romney told Townhall.com, "I repudiate the effort by that PAC to promote an ad strategy of the nature they've described. I would like to see this campaign focus on the economy, on getting people back to work, on seeing rising incomes and growing prosperity -- particularly for those in the middle class of America. And I think what we've seen so far from the Obama campaign is a campaign of character assassination. I hope that isn't the course of this campaign. So in regards to that PAC, I repudiate what they're thinking about ... It's interesting that we're talking about some Republican PAC that wants to go after the president [on Wright]; I hope people also are looking at what he'sdoing, and saying 'why is he running an attack campaign? Why isn't he talking about his record?"

Ricketts, who owns the Chicago Cubs with his family, has pissed off the wrong man: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Mayor said, "America is too great a country with too great a future for the content that they’re talking about. And it’s insulting to the president. It’s insulting to the country." According to HuffPost, "The Ricketts family owns the Chicago Cubs, and Joe's son Tom is chairman of the team. The bombshell report couldn't come at a worse time for the Ricketts, who are seeking public funds to renovate 98-year-old Wrigley Field. Emanuel has a plan to use amusement tax revenues and other incentives to pay for the renovations to the park, which did not have night lights until 1988. Emanuel is reportedly refusing to take the Ricketts' calls."

The New York Times, for their part, stands by their reporting.

(Just for fun: The best Jeremiah Wright video on YouTube.)

Reuters reports on how the Koch brothers are behind an effort to boost database technology for the GOP, "Republican political operatives, some with deep financial backing from the billionaire Koch brothers and others, are unleashing about a half dozen major projects that take advantage of advanced database technologies to manage campaigns and target voters with personalized messages. ...Called Themis, the independent group is the most ambitious of the many conservative political technology projects now in development. People with direct knowledge of the group as well as political technology industry veterans say it is backed by the Koch brothers, although their names do not appear on an annual regulatory filing and Koch Industries spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment."

Millions of dollars in campaign ads in Michigan go unreported due to electioneering communications loopholes.

Democrats in Illinois are trying to undo campaign contribution limits imposed in the wake of the Rod Blagojevich scandal to counteract super PACs.

Alison Frankel says to beware unintended consequences of the Van Hollen v. FEC case.


Help us populate our list of campaign videos. Send any notable TV, radio or web ads that you see to Fundrace. Send your submissions to paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.

Committee: Barack Obama for President
Spot: "Stephanie Cutter: Get The Facts on Karl Rove's BS"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: Republican National Committee
Candidate Opposed: Barack Obama
Spot: "The Obama-Biden Attack On Coal Industry Jobs"
Market: Unknown.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Mitt Romney for President
Candidate Opposed: Barack Obama
Spot: "A Few More Of The 23 Million"
Market: Unknown.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Barack Obama for President
Spot: "Dorothy Cooper and the New Tennessee Voter Law"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: American Bridge 21st Century
Candidate Opposed: Richard Mourdock
Spot: "Mourdock: Fighting Against Hoosier Jobs"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: Ted Cruz for Senate
Candidate Opposed: David Dewhurst
Spot: "Reject the Dewhurst Lies"
Market: Texas.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Denny Rehberg for Senate
Candidate Opposed: Jon Tester
Spot: "Bologna"
Market: Montana.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Marty Chavez for Congress
Spot: "Hits"
Market: New Mexico's 1st District.
Buy: Undisclosed.


These numbers represent spending by independent groups, like super PACs and non-profits, to support or oppose a particular candidate for the presidency in 2012. Fundrace will update this spending daily to help show which candidates are gaining from the proliferation of independent groups in this coming election.

Newt Gingrich (R), $13,017,772 to support, $18,885,161 to oppose.
Rick Santorum (R), $7,548,235 to support, $20,923,379 to oppose.
Mitt Romney (R), $7,327,516 to support, $8,743,763 to oppose.
Rick Perry (R), $4,167,697 to support, $1,404 to oppose.
Ron Paul (R), $3,748,218 to support, $214,158 to oppose.
Jon Huntsman (R), $2,453,204 to support, $0 to oppose.
Barack Obama (D), $455,569 to support, $1,279,069 to oppose. (+$10,557)
Herman Cain (R), $501,717 to support, $954 to oppose.
Gary Johnson (R), $518 to support, $0 to oppose.


Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, $10,557 to oppose Barack Obama for President.
Women Vote!, $26,264 to support Julia Brownley for Congress in California's 26th District.
Women Vote!, $12,631 to support Michelle Lujan Grisham for Congress in New Mexico's 1st District.
Citizens United, $100,000 to support Jesse Kelly for Congress in Arizona's 8th District.
Texas Conservatives Fund, $200,000 to oppose Ted Cruz for Senate in Texas.
Club for Growth Action, $7,235 to support Ted Cruz for Senate in Texas.
Club for Growth Action, $919,825 to oppose David Dewhurst for Senate in Texas.
Liberty for All Super PAC, $18,504 to support Thomas Massie for Congress in Kentucky's 4th District.
Campaign for Primary Accountability, $45,000 to oppose Silvestre Reyes for Congress in Texas' 16th District.


Talkin' Smack PAC, New York, N.Y., Treasurer: Eyck Freyman. (Super PAC)
Crossroads Generation, Glen Allen, Va., Treasuer: Margee Clancy. (Super PAC)

Send tips, hints, submissions, rumors to HuffPost Fundrace at paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.