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‘Dark money’ group attacks Smith for Kyoto Protocol support

Screenshot from 60 Plus Association ad

Screenshot from 60 Plus Association ad

A Virginia-based conservative group is airing ads in Phoenix and Tucson attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Smith for supporting an international agreement to combat global warming.

The ad, funded by the 60 Plus Association, likens the former Mesa Mayor to President Obama and former Vice President Al Gore for his support of the Kyoto Protocol – a United Nations framework, adopted in Japan in December 1997 and put into action in February 2005, that set binding targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by developed countries.

Those standards will hurt the state’s economy and force Arizonan’s to pay higher utility bills, according to the 60 Plus Association, which claims to represent more than 167,000 seniors in the state.

“Like Al Gore, Smith supports the Kyoto Protocol, an international contract that sets binding greenhouse gas controls. He even signed a pledge. It would kill millions of American jobs while the world’s biggest polluters aren’t required to reduce greenhouse gases,” the voiceover says. “Smith joins liberals and Obama in their war on affordable, reliable energy and wants American taxpayers to pay for heavy regulations.”

The 60 Plus Association, which bills itself as the conservative version of the American Association of Retired Persons and is criticized by liberal groups for its ties to Republican mega-donors Charles and David Koch, began airing the ad on June 28 on cable and plans to run it through July 11.

Because the 60 Plus Association is classified by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c(4) social welfare non-profit organization, its donors remain anonymous, even though it is allowed to spend unlimited money in political campaigns.

The group spent nearly $170,000 in 2012 to attack Democratic U.S. Reps. Kyrsten Sinema and  Ann Kirkpatrick, and spent more than $1,700 supporting former Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams in his congressional campaign the same year. It also spent millions of dollars supporting Mitt Romney and attacking President Barack Obama during the 2012 presidential campaign.

60 Plus Association has strong ties to Phoenix political consultant Sean Noble, an ally of Republican state Treasurer Doug Ducey, who is also running for governor. One non-profit group Noble founded sent the Virginia-based 60 Plus Association nearly $11 million in the run up to the 2010 elections.

In 2013, 60 Plus Association ran television ads in Arizona supporting new fees for residential rooftop solar panel users. The arguments it made mirrored those made by the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service, which had hired Noble as a consultant.

Noble has also been tied to the Legacy Foundation Action Fund, an Iowa-based 501c(4) that has attacked Smith. His firm, DC London, produced a television ad for that group that called Smith “Obama’s favorite mayor.” That ad is at the center of an election complaint that Smith’s campaign filed against Ducey today.

Other independent groups that have spent money in the gubernatorial primary are also tied to Noble. He is the political consultant for Conservative Leadership for Arizona, which has aired television ads supporting Ducey and attacking Republican candidate Christine Jones. Noble’s company also produced another anti-Jones ad for Veterans for a Strong America, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit based in South Dakota.

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