Progressive group running $1 million in dark money ads against Bacon

By: - July 3, 2022 3:52 pm

Third-party group Unrig Our Economy Nebraska says it is targeting U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., with $1 million in advertising. This is one of the group’s mailers. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

OMAHA — A national group targeting swing-district Republicans in Congress said it is running $1 million in TV, digital and mail ads this summer against U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb.

Bacon-Vargas photo
U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., at left, and State Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha are running for the 2nd District seat in the Omaha-area. (Courtesy of Photos/House of Representatives and Nebraska Legislature)

The group, Unrig Our Economy Nebraska, is the local offshoot of a national effort by progressive donors to push back against GOP messaging about the economy, including inflation.

The first Omaha-area ads painted Bacon as a corporate shill who protects profits over people. In Iowa and other districts, the group has targeted GOP members for prescription drug votes.

Unrig’s local director, Kevin Cass, said Bacon blames Democrats for price hikes as businesses post record profits. Cass wants people to see Bacon talks moderate and votes conservative.

“People need to know who Don Bacon is,” he said.

Bacon has said the dark money group is deflecting from economic mistakes made by President Joe Biden and Democrats. He said 2nd Congressional District voters won’t be fooled by the ads.

On Sunday, Bacon said one of the “far-left” group’s goals is to “raise business taxes,” which he said “undermines our economic competitiveness.” He said they want to elect his opponent.

Bacon is seeking a fourth term in November against State Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha, a former teacher and nonprofit executive who served previously on the Omaha Public Schools board.

The 2nd District is no stranger to spending from third-party groups. In 2020, Bacon and his opponent, Kara Eastman, each faced about $5 million in outside spending against them.

Sarah Baron, the director of the national Unrig campaign, told The Hill in June that Democrats need to make sure voters know why Republicans in Congress vote the ways they do.

She called for a “progressive, populist economic message.”

The umbrella Unrig Our Economy organization is a combination of two former educational nonprofit groups, Tax March and Health Care Voter, which pressed for progressive policies.

Cass would not say who is funding the 501(c)4 group’s ads. Such groups do not have to reveal its donors on any federal campaign finance forms or in tax documents.


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Aaron Sanderford
Aaron Sanderford

Political reporter Aaron Sanderford has tackled various news roles in his 20-plus year career. He has reported on politics, crime, courts, government and business for the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star. He also spent several years as an assignment editor and worked two stints as an editorial writer. From 2005 to 2007, he served as communications director for then-Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman. Aaron most recently was the lead investigative reporter for KMTV 3 in Omaha, focusing on holding public officials accountable. His work has received awards from the Associated Press, Great Plains Journalism and more.