By Erik Sorenson of Portland, Oregon. Erik is a political researcher and activist.
It appears the GOP front group, USA Next stole a photo from the Portland Tribune to use in one of their political attack ads. For all of you that don't know, USA Next is the group heavily involved in smearing the American Association Of Retired Citizens (AAPR) over the Social Security debate.
What is most notable about USA Next is their relationship to the Republican Party and other conservative groups. The group was founded in 1991 by conservative activist and godfather of direct mail, Richard Viguerie. Aside from the group being advised by Republican consultants, the current president and CEO, Charles Jarvis, has heavy ties to the Republican Party and has worked for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Likewise, much of the staff is composed of conservative activists and lobbyists that have ties to the GOP and other right-wing groups including James Dobson's organization, Focus on the Family.
USA Next landed in newspapers after they hired ad consultants from another GOP front group, The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The Swift Boat Vets are best known for conducting a well-planned smear campaign based on lies against Senator Kerry. Now USA Next has launched a campaign against AARP smearing them in the same Rovian style, accusing the group of backing gay marriage and not supporting U.S. Troops, among other things.
There is no telling where this story will go, but one thing is for sure, it is a dandy one.