A new group opposing Chuck Hagel bills itself as a gay-rights organization made up of mostly Democrats — but it has close ties to the Republican Party.
The New York Times reported that Use Your Mandate uses Del Cielo Media, a prominent Republican firm, to purchase its television advertisements, the same firm used by the Emergency Committee for Israel.
The group’s main consultant told BuzzFeed its donors are gay activists and Democrats afraid of alienating the White House.
But Del Cielo Media’s ties are not just to the Israel group. It is part of the Smart Media Group (SMG) in Alexandria, Virginia. Past clients of SMG include the McCain-Palin campaign in 2008, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican Governors Associations, and Jon Huntsman’s campaign in 2012.
John Britten, the Republican National Committee’s director of online advertising, previously worked for SMG as a digital strategist.
The group has also gone to some length to conceal its donors. FCC paperwork obtainable online shows the address for the group as Tusk Strategies, a political consulting firm headed by Tusk, who ran New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s successful 2009 campaign for mayor as an independent.
Multiple FCC forms, also show the group has already spent thousands of dollars advertising in New York and Washington D.C.. FCC paperwork lists the president of Use Your Mandate as a woman named “Virginie Stujenske.” On other forms she is listed as the group’s treasurer. Stujenske is an employee for Tusk Strategies, where her name is listed as Virginie Raphael.
None of this offers much support to the suggestion that the group’s roots are in gay Democratic activism.