Friday, October 31, 2014

Tenn. abortion vote draws millions in ad spending / The two sides have raised more than $5 million this year and spent most of it since Oct. 1.


Washington / Dave Boucher, The Tennessean October 31, 2014

The two sides have raised more than $5 million this year and spent most of it since Oct. 1.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — More than $4 million in advertising for and against an abortion measure has flooded airwaves and mailboxes in Tennessee since the start of October, with opponents outstripping supporters by nearly a 3-1 ratio.
Both campaigns have combined to raise more than $5 million this year, and they've spent most of it since Oct. 1. Much of the funding to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment comes from out-of-state donors, an indication of the national implications for the outcome of the election Tuesday.
The amendment gives state lawmakers more authority to create restrictions on abortion clinics. Supporters say it allows for greater oversight to protect the health of women. Opponents say it's a guise to limit a woman's right to a safe abortion.
The organization Vote No on One Tennessee spent $3.4 million from Oct. 1 to Oct. 25 in an effort to defeat the Amendment 1, according to campaign finance disclosures.
"There's a large interest nationally in making a statement that here in the South, it's not OK for politicians to strip away personal, private medical decisions," said Steven Hershkowitz, a spokesman for the Vote No campaign.
The leading organization advocating for the amendment —Yes on 1 — spent more than $1 million in October, almost entirely on campaign advertising. It was thanks in part to raising $670,000 in the first three weeks of the month.
But it couldn't match the nearly $2.1 million raised from Oct. 1 to Oct. 25 by the Vote No campaign. The influx of money helped the organization spend almost $3.8 million since the start of the year. More than $3 million went toward advertising or campaign media since the start of October.
Planned Parenthood drove the bulk of the fundraising for the Vote No camp in October. The Seattle chapter donated $750,000, while three chapters in California combined to donate $500,000. Two Florida chapters contributed $101,000, while Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee chipped in $50,000.
The American Civil Liberties Union also donated $100,000 to the Vote No campaign.
Pharmaceutical tycoon and conservative political supporter John Gregory donated $150,000 to the Yes on 1 campaign, leading all independent donors in October. The organization also shifted over the last $150,000 it had raised when it first started advocating for the amendment as a nonprofit organization.
The vast majority of the most recent contributions supporting the amendment came from Tennessee donors, mainly from churches or anti-abortion rights organizations, noted campaign finance director Jason Albin.
"Our strength is in our grass roots, and that is where we feel we're going to win this amendment on Tuesday," Albin said. "Those are actually the people on the ground and voting."
A Middle Tennessee State University poll released this week said 39 percent of respondents supported the amendment, 32 percent opposed it, and 15 percent were still undecided. That led the poll organizers to deem the results "too close to call."