Planned Parenthood has become the latest big-spending political group to try to erode the political base of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., more than a year before his next election.
A new ad that surfaced this morning in Ad Hawk, Sunlight's searchable database of political advertising, paints the five-term Republican as opposing the interests of women. Because the ad does not explicitly call for a vote for or against McConnell, Planned Parenthood's expenditure does not have to be reported to the Federal Election Commission, but a contract on file in Political Ad Sleuth, Sunlight's database for tracking political advertising, shows that the reproductive rights organization has paid $4,250 to air the advertisement eight times this week and next against news programming on Louisville station WHAS.
There could be more buys: Political Ad Sleuth tracks an online database compiled by the Federal Communications Commission. Currently, the FCC requires only affiliates of the two four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) in the nations top 50 television markets to post political ads online. And even those stations don't always upload their advertisements promptly.
McConnell's race is one of the first of the 2014 cycle to heat up: As Sunlight earlier reported, gun control advocates have recently begun to target him and the pro-GOP Crossroads GPS has struck back with attack ads aimed at country-western vocalist Ashley Judd, who has been rumored as a potential Democratic candidate in the Kentucky Senate race.
The latest round of TV ads, however, shows that Democratic heavy hitters are willing to at least test the possibility that McConnell might be vulnerable. Planned Parenthood pumped nearly $12 million into the last election through its super PAC and a 501(c) organization, Sunlight's Follow the Unlimited Money shows. The group had a knack for picking winners: Sunlight calculated Planned Parenthood's return on investment at better than 98 percent.
Though he is the top Republican in the Senate, McConnell is leaving nothing to change: According to Political Party Time's database, he's clocked seven major fundraisers just since last year's Election Day.