A new attack ad targeting three Democratic senators and one Republican criticizes "hidden taxes on … pensions and retirement accounts" in the financial regulation legislation being considered by Congress, and urges the senators to "vote against this phony financial reform."
The ad gives a false impression. The Senate bill doesn't contain the tax mentioned in the ad.
The ad is the work of a less-than-transparent group calling itself "Stop Too Big To Fail," which says its $1.6 million ad buy is targeting senators in Nevada, Virginia and Missouri (Sens. Harry Reid, Mark Warner, Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond). This group says it's part of Consumers for Competitive Choice, "a diverse national coalition of Americans who support a strong, vibrant and consumer-focused economy." But the only backers identified as part of this "diverse coalition" are an Indiana lawyer named Robert Johnson and Sam Zamarripa, a former Georgia state senator who founded a private equity firm and United Americas Bank in Atlanta. Johnson previously created groups called Consumers Voice and Consumers for Cable Choice, backed by money from AT&T and Verizon, and advocated for their interests, according to Roll Call. Johnson told us Consumers for Competitive Choice accepts funding from individuals, groups and foundations, but doesn't disclose its donors.
The ad claims that the legislation could "lead to more big-bank bailouts, paid for by hidden taxes on your pensions and retirement accounts." The only tax mentioned, however, is a "financial transactions tax," which is referenced in an on-screen graphic while the narrator says that "Congress is considering so-called financial reform … paid for by hidden taxes" on pensions and retirement funds. Some lawmakers are indeed considering such a tax on stock trades. But it's not part of the Senate financial regulatory bill. And it never has been. We called the Senate Banking Committee, and a spokesman confirmed that it isn't there.