Boehner, Priebus Ex-Chiefs of Staff Air Ads to Pressure Conservatives Resisting Executive Amnesty

by Matthew Boyle
2 Mar 2015Washington, DC

The former chiefs of staff to House Speaker John Boehner and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus are part of a concerted effort to target House conservatives with advertisements aimed at pressuring them to cave to President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty and fund it in its entirety through the end of the fiscal year.

“An outside group aligned with House GOP leadership will spend $400,000 this week to urge dozens of conservative House Republicans to vote for Department of Homeland Security funding — a new and more aggressive phase in the legislative battle among Republicans that’s consuming Capitol Hill,” Politico wrote about a new effort from American Action Network, a group whose board is home to power players including Boehner’s ex-chief of staff Barry Jackson and immediate previous RNC chief of staff Mike Shields.

The massive ad buy against Republican members by Boehner’s and Priebus’ ex-top aides, pressuring conservatives to drop their strong opposition to Obama’s executive amnesty, targets three specific House Republicans: Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Jim Jordan (R-OH).

“The 30-second spot will run at least 50 times in each district — on broadcast, in prime slots — Tuesday and Wednesday as the House is expected to take up a DHS funding bill,” Politico wrote.

The group says the ad campaign, which also includes radio ads on nationally syndicated shows and digital ads in dozens of other districts represented by House conservatives, is the opening salvo of a larger effort to help Republican leaders pass center-right legislation. American Action Network says it will spend millions of dollars to contact voters in the coming months. The move appears designed to give Boehner cover to end the months-long impasse over homeland security funding.

It’s going to be nearly impossible for Boehner or Priebus to separate the efforts of this group from their own, as Jackson and Shields are members of the two top Republicans’ respective inner circles. It comes as Boehner, meanwhile, is trying to shift blame to anyone else for the coming DHS funding cave that will enable Obama’s executive amnesty. Meanwhile, the environment for a potential coup against Boehner by Republican alternatives on Capitol Hill is improving.

Shields, who left Priebus’ team after the midterm election win to become executive director of AAN, said in a statement to Politico that the plans by the Boehner allies on the AAN board to hammer Republicans for fighting Obama’s executive amnesty will continue for as long as they need to in order to get them to back down.

“If this debate continues, we’ll keep the ads up,” Shields said. “If not, they’re going to be as significant as we can possibly get on broadcast while the debate is happening to educate the voters on this issue.”

AAN is one of the biggest supporters of amnesty, having lobbied Congress in favor of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill that failed in the last Congress. Other board members include former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), Thayer Lodging Group head and hotelier Fred Malek, former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, and several other lobbyists and former members of Congress from the establishment.

The advertisements’ content directly contradicts rhetoric from Boehner and Priebus.

“The House has acted. We’ve done our job. Senate Democrats are the ones putting us in this precarious position,” Boehner said a couple weeks ago on Fox News Sunday.

Before the midterm elections, Priebus promised Republican voters that members of the new Republican majority—if conservatives stepped up to deliver the elections to the GOP, would defund Obama’s executive amnesty, something he even called “un-American.”

“While I can’t speak for the legislature, I’m very confident we will stop that,” Priebus said back then. “We will do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen: Defunding, going to court, injunction. You name it. It’s wrong. It’s illegal. And for so many reasons, and just the basic fabric of this country, we can’t allow it to happen and we won’t let it happen. I don’t know how to be any stronger than that. I’m telling you, everything we can do to stop it we will.”