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Big new ad buy in Bishop, Altschuler race

Randy Altschuler, Republican candidate for the House, gives

Randy Altschuler, Republican candidate for the House, gives a thumbs up after casting his ballot at St. James Elementary School in St. James. (Nov. 2, 2010) Credit: James Carbone

A political advocacy group co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove is spending several hundred thousand dollars on ads to support GOP candidate Randy Altschuler as he battles five-term incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) in the First Congressional District.

The nonprofit Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies spent $260,000 for a television spot that debuted Tuesday. It focuses on allegations by Altschuler that Bishop campaign fundraisers improperly contacted a constituent of the congressman as he helped him get a home fireworks permit.

Bishop has denied that he violated House ethics rules prohibiting soliciting donations in return for official actions, saying his team was merely following up on the constituent's interest in helping the campaign.

The Crossroads GPS ad represents the second six-figure expenditure for Altschuler by an outside group. Early this month, super PAC Prosperity First, largely funded by local hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, spent $294,000 to benefit the St. James businessman.

As a nonprofit advocacy group, Crossroads GPS can spend only a portion of its funds on political campaigns. Other permitted activities include policy advocacy.

Super PACs are political action committees allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigning, provided they operate independently of individual candidates.

Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads, Rove's super PAC, each plan to spend millions of dollars on U.S. House and Senate races. The Rove organizations are directing their first House ad buys to the Bishop-Altschuler rematch.

Bishop defeated Altschuler by only 593 votes in 2010.

"We need economic growth, not politicians who are more worried about helping themselves," Crossroads spokesman Nate Hodson said in explaining his group's anti-Bishop ad.

Bishop campaign spokesman Robert Pierce said Crossroads GPS' nonprofit status allows it to hide its funding sources.

"Now it is abundantly clear that Altschuler and his Super PAC allies will try to buy this seat," Pierce said. "Karl Rove pledged to drop $32 million in shadowy money on House races this year and his first target is on Eastern Long Island. The fact is, we don't know who funds Crossroads and they could be . . . big oil, Wall Street and outsourcing interests both at home and abroad."

Also yesterday, Bishop's team continued pushing its primary attack against Altschuler: his previous stint as co-chief executive of business support company OfficeTiger, which created most of its jobs overseas. Pierce criticized OfficeTiger for once basing its corporate headquarters in the Netherlands.

Chris Russell, an Altschuler spokesman, called the claim irresponsible and said OfficeTiger wasn't avoiding U.S. corporate taxes. The Netherlands base was appropriate for a global firm that had many interests and investors in Europe, Altschuler has said.

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