Clear Channel Outdoor to Pull Billboards Warning Voter Fraud Is a Felony
Advocacy Group Argued Signs Were Meant to Intimidate Black and Hispanic Voters
Clear Channel Outdoor said it will remove anonymous billboards warning against voter fraud in the swing states of Ohio and Wisconsin.
The billboards began appearing in black and Hispanic communities in Cleveland, Columbus and Milwaukee last week, according to the advocacy group ColorofChange.org, which argued that the ads were designed to intimidate voters. The ads, which do not identify their sponsor, say "Voter Fraud is a Felony" and warn of penalties such as several years in jail and $10,000 fines.
"Allowing an anonymous advertiser to create an atmosphere of fear around voting just as the early-voting period begins is unacceptable," ColorofChange said on its website.
Clear Channel Outdoor said Monday that the ads should say who paid for them. "We reviewed the situation, and in light of the fact that these billboards violate our policy of not accepting anonymous political ads, we asked the client how they would prefer to work with us to bring the boards into conformance with our policy," said Jim Cullinan, a spokesperson for Clear Channel Outdoor. "The client thought the best solution was to take the boards down, so we are in the process of removing them."
Clear Channel declined to identify the client.
Group demands misleading Spanish voting billboards in Pennsylvania be removed
VC sends voter fraud message via billboards
by Kent Bernhard, Jr , Money & Finance EditorNovember 1, 2012 | 11:39am EDT
Last Modified: November 1, 2012 | 11:44am
Last Modified: November 1, 2012 | 11:44am
Stephen Einhorn, a Milwaukee-area venture capitalist, is at the center of a controversy over billboards he funded outlining the penalties for voter fraud. Liberal groups accuse the Republican backer of trying to suppress minority voting.
ome venture capitalists who support the GOP this year are going further than just throwing their money behind Mitt Romney in his bid for the presidency. Case in point, Wisconsin VC Stephen Einhorn.
Einhorn, the father of New York City hedge fund manager David Einhorn, disclosed this week that he and his wife Sandy had paid to erect billboards around key swing states Wisconsin and Ohio reading, "Voter Fraud is a Felony!"
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the signs sparked protests from civil rights groups who claimed they were aimed at suppressing minority voting since most of the signs were in predominantly minority areas. Clear Channel, the owner of the signs, ultimately ordered them removed.
The Einhorns, through a Chicago public relations firm, said they had paid for the signs out of a sense of public duty. "By reminding people of the possible consequences of illegal voting, we hope to help the upcoming election be decided by legally registered voters," the couple said in a statement.
Partisan battles over the ballot box have become common in the runup to the election, as Republicans tout voter identification laws and other measures in an effort, they say, to quell voter fraud. Democrats and liberal groups say voter fraud is a red herring, and conservatives are trying to suppress voting, especially among African American and Hispanic voters who favor their party.
The Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice writes:
Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now (a civil rights group), issued a statement Monday raising several questions for the Einhorns.
"Perhaps their Chicago public relations firm could answer why the Einhorns only felt it was necessary to target legal voters in minority communities, and why they didn't feel the need to do this 'public service' throughout communities across Wisconsin where a majority of the residents are white."
Whatever Einhorn's motivation, the head of Capital Midwest Fund has been a strong supporter of Republicans and conservative causes, the Milwaukee Business Journal reports. The Business Journal's Rich Kirchen writes (premium content):
Stephen Einhorn of Einhorn Associates, Wauwatosa, and the Capital Midwest Fund, contributed $25,000 to Freedomworks for America, which is supporting Republican U.S. Representative Reid Ribble in the Fox Valley and opposes Democrat Jamie Wall.
Einhorn is not alone in his support for Republicans. In the presidential election, venture capitalists nationally have bet heavily on Romney, contributing $860,827 to the Republican's campaign, compared to $552,728 for President Barack Obama.
That's a shift from 2008, when the investors favored Obama over Senator John McCain.
Marc Andreessen, one of the most famous of the breed, represents that shift. He supported Obama in 2008, but this year has tacked hard to the right, contributing to Romney and Representative Eric Cantor, putting $100,000 into conservative group Restore Our Future, and giving $30,800 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, among other donations,according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
All the activity from venture capitalists on behalf of Republicans is almost enough to make you think there are no startup financiers backing Democrats. But there, you'd be mistaken.
John Doerr, managing director of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and one of the richest and most prominent VCs still puts his money behind Democrats, with $30,800 given to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $30,800 given to DNC Services Corp., and $5,000 to the Obama campaign, among other donations.
It's all enough to make you think these guys would do better to spend their money at what they're good at—investing in young companies.