MADISON, Wis. - As Wisconsin approaches the April 3 presidential primary, a political group that can raise and spend unlimited cash is on the air slamming one Republican candidate.
The powerful political action committee is targeting former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
"Restore our Future is responsible for the content of this message," the ad says in its closing lines.
Restore our Future is a super PAC, a new breed of political committee that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money and oftentimes is closely tied, but not run, by another political candidate. In this case, Restore our Future was started and is run by former aides to former Gov. Mitt Romney, which explains the attacks against Santorum.
"How did Rick Santorum actually vote?" asks the voice in the ad. "Santorum voted to raise the debt limit five times, and for billions in wasteful projects including the 'Bridge to Nowhere.'"
WISC-TV found this is true. Santorum did vote to raise the debt limit while in Congress, five times over his term. He did in fact vote for a large transportation bill which included the "Bridge to Nowhere," a now-infamous earmark project in Alaska.
"In a single session, Santorum co-sponsored 51 bills to increase spending and zero to cut spending," the ad says.
WISC-TV found the ad is looking at a small snapshot of Santorum's term, which can be misleading.
Here the ad focuses on 2003, citing numbers from the National Taxpayers Union. But looking at Santorum's entire term over eight sessions of Congress shows that some years he proposed millions in spending cuts, including some $81 billion in his second term.
Plus, the Taxpayers Union points out, Santorum's total "spending agenda" of $28 billion in 2003 was lower than the average Republican "spending agenda" in Congress that year, of $33 billion.
"Santorum even voted to raise his own pay and joined Hillary Clinton to let convicted felons vote," the ad says.
On the felons issue, WISC-TV found the video accompanying this claim is misleading.
Santorum did vote for an amendment that would have allowed felons to vote once they had completely served their sentences -- not allowing felons to vote from prison as is implied in images from the TV ad.
WISC-TV found that ad's claim about pay is true. Santorum voted three times against provisions sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold in 2001, 2002 and 2003 that would have stopped a congressional pay raise.
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