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Sherman questions Super PAC cable buy for Berman

April 30, 2012 |  6:22 pm

A so-called Super PAC has bought nearly $500,000 in cable television advertising to support Howard Berman, who is warring with fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman for  a San Fernando Valley congressional district seat.

The  Committee to Elect an Effective Valley Congressman bought political ads on several Time Warner Cable systems in the Valley, starting Tuesday and running up until the June 5 primary.

The Sherman campaign announced details of the purchase and raised several questions, including why the Super PAC had not listed other campaign expenditures in its report to  federal election officials and suggested that it was trying to hide the source of its contributors by waiting until  the latest filing period ended, on March 31, to make the  cable TV ad  buys.

Super PACs  can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose candidates so long as the organization does not coordinate its efforts with the candidate; it is required to report donors and expenditures.

The Berman campaign said it knew nothing about the cable purchase because, by law, it cannot have contact with a Super PAC.   A representative of the Valley Congressman organization could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sherman made super PACs an issue early in the campaign by challenging Berman to disavow the at least two such organizations that have formed to support him.  Sherman wants Berman to sign a pledge that would help blunt the effect of Super PACS by requiring a candidate contribute to the U.S. Treasury an amount equal to whatever a Super PAC spends on his behalf.  Berman has dismissed the  pledge as a “grimmick.”

Both candidates have millions to spend on the race, which is widely expected to last into the fall  because of the state’s new primary system  that will send the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, to  the November general election.

One other Democrat and three Republicans also are on the ballot in this strongly Democratic district.


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--Jean Merl

Photo: Reps. Brad Sherman, left, and Howard Berman at a debate earlier this year.  Credit: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times