White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs belonged to group that refused to discuss its political donors

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs spent much of his press conference defending the White House’s charge that the Chamber of Commerce should disclose all of their donors for their political ads. But as Chris Moody at the Daily Caller reports, Gibbs himself was once part of a group running political attack ads that notoriously refused to disclose their funders:

During the 2003-2004 presidential primary season, however, Gibbs worked as the spokesman for a liberal  advocacy group that ran attack ads against then-Democratic candidate Howard Dean. The “secretive” group, called Americans for Jobs, Health Care & Progressive Values, spent months organizing scathing ads without disclosing who was paying for them.

One particularly damaging  TV spot that aired in December 2003 showed a photograph of Osama Bin Laden while an ominous voice declared, “Americans want a president that can face the dangers ahead. But Howard Dean has no military or foreign policy experience. And Howard Dean just cannot compete with George Bush on foreign policy. It’s time for Democrats to think about that. And think about it now.” The ad, part of a series of anti-Dean spots, crippled the Dean campaign.

The Dean camp was furious, and called on the group to disclose who had funded the ad.

“Whoever is behind this should crawl out from underneath their rock and have the courage to say who they are,” Former Dean Spokesman Tricia Enright told The New York Times at the time. “It is hateful, it’s cynical, it’s exactly the kind of ad that keeps people from voting, that keeps people from getting involved in the process.”

The organization’s Treasurer, David Jones, refused.

“We will disclose donors when the law requires,” Jones was quoted as saying in The New York Times.

It would be interesting to see what happens when some enterprising White House reporter asks Gibbs about this.

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