The Rocco Rossi ad you will never see (except here)
Two prominent members of Rocco Rossi's campaign team were set to urge his supporters to kick in $2,500 each to help buy full-page newspapers ads to give his struggling campaign a boost.
And although both men behind the plan are Rossi campaign co-chairs and one -- Duncan Jackman, mega-wealthy financier and son of Hal -- is helping to spearhead Rossi's fundraising efforts, they wrote to well-heeled Ross supporters: "We are advised that as this is a '3rd party ad,' it is not subject to the election donation maximum rules. No one from the Campaign Team is involved."
Ads and other forms of politicking by third-party groups are a staple of U.S. politics -- often employing attack ads that can't be pinned directly on a candidate and don't affect their spending limits. Toronto has seen unions and other groups buy election ads focused on a particular issue, but nobody the Star canvassed Thursday could recall a third-party ad promoting a particular municipal candidate.
Patricia Best, spokeswoman for the Rossi campaign, says campaign manager Bernie Morton nixed the plan and the ad.
First, the email obtained by the Star on Tuesday:
From: Vahan Kololian <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2010
Subject: Request from Vahan Kololian and Duncan Jackman - Let's Help Rocco Rossi Get the Attention He Deserves - REPLY REQUESTED
Dear Fellow Supporters of Rocco Rossi:
While Rocco's numbers are lagging, we remain convinced that he is the best candidate for Mayor of Toronto. We are also aware that at this point in the campaign in 2003, John Tory and David Miller were lagging significantly behind Barbara Hall.
Rocco continues to work hard. We, along with several other friends feel that a group of us should run a few full page ads in Toronto newspapers, independently of the campaign. Attached and below is the proposed ad.
Currently we are proposing to run it in the Toronto Sun and the Toronto Star as a full page ad with the signatures of business and community leaders like yourselves. It will be a full page ad and two days of banner ads on their web sites. The cost of this is $10,000 for The Sun and approximately $40,000 for The Star.
Please see below and/or attached for a copy of the ad.
We are advised that as this is a "3rd party ad," it is not subject to the election donation maximum rules. No one from the Campaign Team is involved.
Our signatures will have our names in print and a replica of our signatures under our printed names.
We are asking donors/sponsors like you to join us in contributing $2,500 each and to sign the ad.
OR if you are sensitive for business or other reasons to signing and promoting a candidate publicly, you can decline to sign, but support it financially.
This e mail is being sent to you as a blind e mail. Once we have a final list of donors we will share it with those who have agreed to participate. You will see who else is listed.
Vahan’s colleague, Kathleen Vesely will manage the collection of pledges and the payment to the newspapers. A full accounting will be kept and any surplus returned equally.
REPLY - please send to Kathleen Vesely: firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> Tel:416 644 6000 x 600
1. Yes I would like to pledge $2,500. Please send the invoice to: (name, address)
2. Yes I will sign the ad, and I will send you a copy of my signature by scanning and e mail or by FAX;
3. I prefer not to sign the ad.
Let’s do this for Rocco and for Toronto.
Vahan Kololian Duncan Jackman
Managing Partner Chairman, CEO and President
TerraNova Partners LP E-L Financial Corp. Ltd
And now, Best's response:
These supporters started this effort as a sincere attempt to help the campaign they believe in further, and then Bernie became aware of the ad, as did a couple of others on the campaign, and Bernie was asked what he thought about it. So at that point the ad ceased to be third party and was nixed. “We follow the letter of the law on this campaign, and so therefore it was pulled.” says Bernie Morton. “The difference between a typical politician--who follows sleazy tactics like trying to scoop our people--and someone like Rocco who stands for honesty and integrity.”