Don't let the innocuous name fool you. The Campaign for Working Families has nothing to do with making life better for overworked or cash-strapped middle-class families.
Instead, the political action committee (PAC) is concerned with electing "pro-family, pro-life and pro-free enterprise" candidates to federal and state offices. Founded in 1996 by evangelical Christian and wannabe presidential candidate Gary Bauer, the PAC has pumped $124,950 into ads helping get Republican Steve Chabot reelected to Congress.—-
Among non-local PACs, only the Susan B. Anthony List has spent more ($154,171) for Chabot. But unlike the List — an anti-abortion group waging a high-profile legal battle with Democratic incumbent Steve Driehaus over the content of proposed billboards — Bauer's PAC has been mostly a low-key presence, trying not to draw too much attention.
What, exactly, does the Campaign for Working Families hope for from the candidates it backs?
According to Right Wing Watch, sponsored by People for the American Way, the PAC “often supports right-wing Republican candidates over moderate Republicans” and “supports state ballot measures that reject gay and lesbian civil rights or those that increase restrictions on access to abortion.”
In the past, the PAC has endorsed such notorious — and, in some instances, disgraced — hardliners like John Ashcroft, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, Rick Santorum, Tom Tancredo and Judge Roy Moore. It's also helped pass anti-gay marriage state ballot initiatives in Alaska, California, Nebraska, Nevada, and Hawaii.
The PAC describes itself on its Web site as taking “the guesswork out of identifying the true conservatives from the pretenders.”
Besides the PAC, Bauer is the president of American Values, a nonprofit organization "committed to defending life, traditional marriage, and equipping our children with" conservative values, and serves on the board of the Emergency Committee for Israel, a militantly pro-Israel group.
“A staunch supporter of President Bush's war on terrorism, Bauer is also a leading Christian advocate for a strong and secure Israel,” its Web site states. “Since the atrocities of Sept. 11, Bauer has devoted considerable time and energy to strengthening the shared values of the Israeli/American alliance.”
Ohio's 1st Congressional District covers roughly from Vine Street downtown westward to the Indiana state line and northward into Butler County. It includes such communities as Clifton, Evendale, Norwood, Reading, Springdale, White Oak, Woodlawn, Colerain Township and Delhi Township.
The question for voters as they go to the polls Nov. 2 is whether Bauer and his group reflect their values. By pumping that amount of cash into Chabot's campaign, the PAC will no doubt expect him to introduce legislation that furthers its agenda.