POLITICS
01/26/2016 09:47 pm ET

Mystery Dark Money Group Attacks John Kasich In New Hampshire

American Future Fund, linked to the Koch brothers in the past, doesn't disclose donors, so its motives are unclear.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- The conservative dark money group American Future Fund just bought a sizable amount of advertising in New Hampshire that will run during this week's Republican presidential debate and into the New Hampshire primary, The Huffington Post has learned. Its target: Ohio Gov. John Kasich. 

American Future Fund, an Iowa-based nonprofit linked to billionaires Charles and David Koch as recently as the 2012 presidential election cycle, spent more than $15,000 on cable television advertising to run during Thursday's GOP debate in Des Moines, a Democratic ad tracker told The Huffington Post on Tuesday.

It doesn't stop there. American Future Fund also made a $549,000 buy with local station WMUR 9 in New Hampshire. The ads will run until Feb. 14 -- after the state's first-in-the-nation primary -- during certain time slots.

American Future Fund doesn't disclose donors, so its motives for the anti-Kasich attacks are unclear. New Hampshire polls show Kasich has surged into second place, behind Donald Trump, with 12.7 percent of the GOP vote.

The ad buy against Kasich marks American Future Fund's first foray into the 2016 presidential cycle. The 30-second television spot will attack the GOP governor as a "supporter of Common Core," Obamacare, Medicaid expansion, and raising taxes, according to a Federal Communications Commission filing. 

Kasich hasn't backed down on his defense of Common Core education standards, arguing it's not a federal program, but one that states choose to adopt independently. Based on the FCC filing, the ad will likely target Kasich's push during his time as governor to raise the state sales tax and boost severance taxes for oil and gas companies. 

The ad buy is designed to target those aged 25 to 54, according to the filing. American Future Fund did not return a request for comment. 

While it was tied to the Kochs in 2012, the fund spent nearly $30 million by the end of the election cycle against President Barack Obama and Democratic Senate candidates in tight races. In 2014, the group barely made a mark, spending about $2.5 million against Democrats. At the same time, the group ran a lobbying campaign on behalf of a Puerto Rican bank.

American Future Fund was founded in 2010 by political operative Nick Ryan, who currently heads a super PAC supporting former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. The pro-Huckabee group has run ads against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in Iowa.

Ryan is also connected with two nonprofit groups -- Iowa Progress Project and America's Renewable Fuels -- that have run ads critical of Cruz in Iowa media markets.

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