Lansing— The Democratic Governors Association began airing a new statewide television ad Tuesday critical of Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2011 education funding cuts — narrated by the Republican incumbent’s presumed Democratic opponent, Mark Schauer.
The so-called “issue ad” features Schauer on screen talking about his Livingston County roots, work in early childhood education in Battle Creek and efforts to secure lower interest rates for college student loans during his one term in Congress.
“I’m Mark Schauer, and we need to stop Gov. Snyder’s cuts to school funding,” Schauer says in the ad without saying he’s a candidate for governor. “He used that money to give tax breaks to businesses, even if they send jobs overseas. Let’s tell Gov. Snyder cutting school funding is no way to build a strong economy.”
The ad focuses on Snyder’s $1.1 billion cut to K-12 and higher education spending in the 2012 fiscal year, which came on the heels of a $1.8 billion tax cut for businesses.
In his State of the State speech this month, Snyder said his administration has increased school spending $660 per pupil. Democrats disputed the amount.
“Under Gov. Snyder, Michigan’s education funding is at its highest level in state history,” Snyder campaign spokesman Kyle Robertson said.
National groups, which face different spending disclosure requirements than candidates, can feature a candidate in ads as long as they don’t tell voters whom to vote for, said Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
In 2010, the Republican Governors Association featured Snyder in a general election ad, making the total cost of the gubernatorial campaign harder to track, Robinson said.
“That’s how the game’s played. ... It’s just a sign of the times,” he said.
Greg McNeilly, president of the conservative political group the Michigan Freedom Fund, accused Schauer of exploiting “a loophole in state law to run a million dollars in advertising from an out-of-state organization.”
“Mark Schauer may very well be running the least transparent and most dishonest gubernatorial campaign in Michigan political history,” GOP consultant McNeilly said in a statement.
The DGA has bought nearly $1 million in broadcast and cable television air time for the ad, according to a person familiar with the advertising purchase.
Federal Communications Commission records reviewed by The Detroit News show the DGA purchased at least $130,000 of airtime Monday in the Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo market. FCC records also indicate the DGA has purchased airtime on two Detroit TV stations, though dollar amounts s were not listed.
Snyder’s campaign is expected to spend nearly $500,000 for a statewide ad to air Sunday during the Super Bowl.