Rogue Attack Operation?

There’s a little more detail today on the funding for the anti-Dean attack ads that Kash wrote about yesterday. Who is in the group?

The group, called Americans for Jobs, Health Care & Progressive Values, was formed a month ago by veteran Democratic campaign staffers who refuse to identify their financial backers until Jan. 31 … The group’s treasurer is a longtime fundraiser for Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, one of Dean’s rivals in the Democratic presidential race, and its spokesman recently quit as press secretary for Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign. Both Gephardt and Kerry have denied any involvement with the group.

Who is funding the group?

A secretive political group financed in part by labor unions has raised $500,000 to air anti-Howard Dean ads in three early primary states, angering the Dean campaign and drawing sharp criticism from campaign finance reform advocates.

Are they happy with their investment? Apparently not.

Two of the unions renounced the effort Tuesday, saying the ads — including one featuring an image of Osama bin Laden — are not what they thought they were paying for.

[snip] … “I tell you, these ads are despicable,” said Rick Sloan, communications director for the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which donated $50,000 to the effort. “If I have my way, we’ll ask for a refund.”

… Robert Gleason, treasurer for the International Longshoremen’s Assn., said his union also donated about $50,000 for what it thought would be general issue ads on jobs and health care, as in the group’s name. When the first anti-Dean ads were aired, the union decided not to send more money.

A final note: all three of the unions that have admitted funding the group behind the attack ads have endorsed Dick Gephardt. Still, I’m inclined to believe the unions’ statements of regret and dismay, as well as Gephardt’s denial of involvement.