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North Carolina

Another Vague 527 Name, Another Attack Ad

Former Sen. John Edwards' political career may be over, but apparently there's still work for his campaign veterans.

A new 527 group set up by a former Edwards campaign official blames Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) for lost jobs. "Over the years," says the group's new TV ad, "she's gone onto 12 different jobs in Washington, while thousands of our jobs have been eliminated by unfair trade deals she supported." The ad ends with, "Sen. Dole, stop supporting tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas."

Democrats are currently taking a second hard look at Dole, who a few weeks ago had seemed to be consolidating her strength. This new 527, formed last month by Lora Haggard, appears to be part of that re-evaluation.

The group is cleverly named Citizens for Strength and Security. And perhaps in case that doesn't resonate, Haggard formed another 527 last month as well, called Citizens for Safety and Security.

Haggard has had plenty of experience with vague-but-pleasant-sounding organization names. Besides serving as Edwards' CFO in his presidential bid this year and as his comptroller in 2004, she's been a director of the Edwards-affiliated groups New American Optimists and the One America Committee. In 2004, she and other former Edwards aides ran Citizens for a Strong Senate, which spent millions on attack ads against Republican Senate candidates.

Jonathan Prince, another Citizens for a Strong Senate alum who recently served as Edwards' deputy campaign manager, now reportedly runs the independent expenditure arm of the Democratic National Committee.

Citizens for a Strong Senate was funded mainly by multi-million-dollar contributions from Herb and Marion Sandler, a California couple who ran a savings-and-loan before selling it to Wachovia Corp. These days, the Sandlers are bankrolling a nonprofit journalism organization called ProPublica.

Though Citizens for a Strong Senate hasn't reported doing much recently, it received $25,000 this year from Texas trial lawyer Ken Bailey, who won a historic settlement against tobacco companies in 1997. Perhaps Bailey believes in Strength and Security as well.