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Anti-Hagel ad spending tops $200K

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(Updated Feb. 6, 11 a.m.)

Outside groups have spent at least $212,000 on television advertisements aimed at torpedoing former Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Obama's controversial nominee to head the Pentagon, with a Senate Armed Services Committee vote on his nomination set to occur as early as Thursday. 

The spending was picked up by Sunlight Foundation's Political Ad Sleuth, which tracks political ad buys. The figures almost certainly understate the amount of money being pumped into the anti-Hagel campaign: Political Ad Sleuth relies heavily on ads uploaded to the Federal Communications Commission's online database; currently only about one-tenth of the nation's nearly 2,200 broadcast stations participate in the database. No cable stations are required to do so. Sunlight invited volunteers to help expand the Political Ad Sleuth database. Find out how here.

A number of outside groups are opposing Hagel's nomination, and several are linked to some of 2012's biggest political spenders. The New York Times has called the emergence of the organized, campaign-style ad blitz unprecedented.

It grows out of the post-Citizens United legal landscape that resulted in outside groups pouring more than $1 billion into last year's election. While several of 2012's players are among the groups advertising against Hagel, others are new to the scene.

A common thread in all the advertising the groups are running against Hagel: the Nebraska Republican's alleged lack of support for Israel. Hagel's supporters, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, deny the charge.

  • Use Your Mandate, a new organization whose ad is seen above, placed $47,000 in ads in New York and Washington, D.C. during popular Sunday morning political talk shows. Though the group uses a conservative media buyer, Use Your Mandate calls Hagel "anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-Israel, anti-gay, and pro-assault weapon," which they say clashes with what voters sought in electing Obama. 
  • Americans for a Strong Defense, another pop-up group, has placed at least $118,000 worth of television ads and appears to be targeting Democratic senators up for reelection in 2014. Though six senators are mentioned on the group's YouTube page, only ads in North Carolina and Colorado have been picked up by Ad Sleuth. 
  • The American Future Fund, a dark money group that spent $18.1 million against Obama during the 2012 election, has also weighed in on the Hagel nomination. The organization spend $14,000 on an ad during Fox News Sunday that aired in Washington, D.C. The ads focus on Hagel's personal financial assets, and the group hopes to delay Hagel's hearing in order for the Senate to thoroughly examine his disclosure forms, due this week. 

Meanwhile, some other groups have placed ads online. The Republican Jewish Coalition and Emergency Committee for Israel feature anti-Hagel videos on their homepages, though the ads haven't shown up on television so far. The Republican Jewish Coalition is backed by Sheldon Adelson, who donated more than $100 million to super PACs during the 2012 election. 

While Hagel faces opposition from these spending groups, he's not without allies. A national security organization known as the Bipartisan Group is coming to Hagel's aid by placing ads in Mike Allen's Playbook, the popular email newsletter put out by Politico. The ads, placed with help from the high-power lobbying firm The Podesta Group, are valued at approximately $35,000, according to Foreign Policy

For a breakdown of the anti-Hagel ad spending Sunlight has found so far, see below. 

Anti-Hagel Ad Spending