California group targets McCain on immigration

Published on March 18th, 2013

Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group

Californians for Population Stabilization, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based nonprofit, is running ads in Arizona against the state’s senior senator, Republican John McCain, asking his constituents to call him and tell him to change his stance on immigration reform.

The ad buy, which cost more than $22,000, is scheduled to air through March 29 on the ABC network during prime time and the morning news slot. The group has run similar ads in the past, attacking Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., during the 2012 campaign, calling them out for supporting increased immigration instead of preserving jobs for Californians.


The ad targeting McCain was first noticed using Sunlight’s tool, Political Ad Sleuth.

While this seems to be the first foray that the organization has made running ads out of their home state, the group is planning on more such TV and radio ads. "We are starting with McCain because he has been pushing for amnesty for years," said Jo Wideman, executive director of Californians for Population Stabilization.

In 2005, McCain weathered intense criticism from conservatives in his own party after joining Democratic liberal icon Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts to craft a sweeping immigration reform law. Despite bipartisan support from Democratic leaders and then-President George W. Bush, the bill failed.

McCain took a less prominent role when the bill was brought back up two years later; at the time, he was preparing for this 2008 run for the White House and had his eye on the conservatives he would have to win over for the presidency. By the time he was running for reelection in 2010 against a primary challenger who was attacking him from the right, McCain portrayed himself as a border security hardliner in a much-commented upon ad.

Started in 1986, Californians for Population Stabilization has several board members who have opposed immigration because of the increases in population it leads to, including Otis Graham, who is listed as the nonprofit’s primary officer on their tax returns.

As a 501c(3) tax exempt organization, the group can run issue-ads only and cannot back a certain candidate for election. The group is also not required to disclose its donors to the public.


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