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Broadcasters Boost Democrat Dollars

NAB has taken some of the PAC out of pachyderm, upping its percentage of political giving to resurgent Dems.

The National Association of Broadcasters has moved a greater percentage of its political action committee (PAC) money from Republican to Democratic candidates in the run-up to an election where the Dems are expected to make major gains.

According to an e-mail obtained by B&C from NAB President David Rehr to NAB board members the 2006 election cycle split is 55% Republican to 45% Democrat compared to a 64% to 36% split in 2004 and 2002. The divide was even greater--69% to 31%--in 2000.

That does not include individual earmarked contributions by NAB members to particular candidates, which NAB does not control.

In the e-mail, Rehr suggested the money was being spent not to push a party, but to "aid members who are close to local broadcasters and state associations executives, or those who have advanced the interests of broadcasters."

That includes pro-broadcaster candidates who have been "targeted for defeat by the Republicans," he said.

NAB has added several former Democratic Hill types to its government relations department since Rehr came aboard almost a year ago. They include Laurie Knight, from the staff or former Rep. Jim Turner (D-Tex.); Mike Mullen, former staffer for Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa); and Jamie Gillespie, one-time aide to Senate Commerce Co-chair Daniel Inouye. NAB also most recently hired former Texas House Democrat Max Sandlin as a consultant. He is said to have close ties to possible new House Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, likely House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, and potential speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Rehr said that the association is likely to hire an additional Dem for the government relations team after the election.

Rehr said the association will wind up backing some losers as well as winners, but calls the division of money "consistent with supporting pro-broadcaster candidates" and "objective in a partisan and volatile atmosphere." Rehr told members he would detail how much went to whom at NAB's upcoming November board meeting.

NAB Spokesman Dennis Wharton refused to comment on the e-mail.