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IN THE NEWS: Top Pence allies behind new TV ad praising Congressman Messer

Ad from an independent expenditure committee with multiple close ties to the Vice President raises questions about his pledge to remain neutral in the GOP Senate primary

INDIANAPOLIS – An outside group with multiple ties to Vice President Pence is behind a new TV ad praising Congressman Messer in his Senate primary bid. According to a report this afternoon in the Indy Star, the ad is paid for by the American Economic Freedom Alliance (AEFA), a dark money group. The group’s director, Michael Adams, is also the legal counsel for Mike Pence’s leadership PAC Great America Committee.

The group is also registered at the same address as IMGE, a public affairs firm who counts among its leadership Marty Obst, Vice President Pence’s senior political adviser. Past employees of AEFA have also publicly said that they’d be “reporting directly to the senior political advisor to Mike Pence.”

The group’s close ties to the Vice President raise questions about whether Pence is breaking the promise he made to Congressman Rokita to remain neutral during the GOP Senate primary. Pence told Congressman Rokita that he’d remain “Switzerland” in the primary, Congressman Rokita’s campaign said, a promise that seemed to hold until this week. However, it’s no secret that the Vice President and Congressman Messer enjoy a close relationship, and the Vice President’s brother Greg Pence is evidently the hand-picked candidate to succeed Congressman Messer.

From the Indy StarMysterious outside group with ties to Pence associates helping Rep. Messer’s Senate bid

WASHINGTON — An outside group whose backers don’t have to be identified is running ads in Indiana praising Rep. Luke Messer, one of three Republicans locked in a contested primary battle for the chance to take on Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly this fall.

The ads began about the same time that Messer launched his first ads in advance of the May 8 primary.

Messer campaign manager Chasen Bullock declined to comment when asked if Messer knows who is behind the outside group’s ads.

The group is registered at the same Washington, D.C., area address as IMGE, a public affairs firm whose services includes political advertising. IMGE’s top officials include Marty Obst, senior political adviser to Vice President Pence.

Matt St. Clair, a Republican operative, tweeted in January that he joined American Economic Freedom Alliance to do opposition research for Indiana’s Senate race.

“I’ll be working closely with and reporting directly to the senior political advisor to Mike Pence!” St. Clair tweeted in a post that was “liked” by Bullock.

Obst did not respond to a request for comment about the group.

The group’s director is Michael Adams, a lawyer who is listed as a treasurer on more than a dozen political action committees. Adams is also the lawyer for Vice President Mike Pence’s leadership PAC, which has paid both IMGE and Obst’s own consulting firm, MO Strategies. 

Pence has not endorsed Messer — or Rep. Todd Rokita or former state Rep. Mike Braun — although Messer’s bid cleared the way for Pence’s brother to run for Messer’s House seat.

The first shot in the ad is of Messer standing next to President Trump and Pence.

Contacted about the American Economic Freedom Alliance’s involvement in the race, Adams said he would refer the query to someone at the alliance, which has not responded.

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