Tuesday, June 20, 2017
From the Legal Intelligencer:
A political action committee named Concerned Veterans for America has begun running an ad asking readers to call their senators and urge a vote in favor of Stephanos Bibas, a Penn Law professor who was recently nominated to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
The committee is a nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization, and is widely reported to be backed by Charles G. and David H. Koch, the politically influential conservative billionaire owners of Koch Industries.
The simple online ad displays a photo of Bibas on a blue background. In white and red the ad asks the viewer to "Tell your senator to confirm Stephanos Bibas to the US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals," and below is a box asking the viewer to "Contact your senator now." When clicked, the ad takes the reader to the Concerned Veterans for America website where the user can fill out a form asking that Bibas be confirmed.
Although the ad was accessible on PennLive.com, it appeared to target viewers based on their search history.
Bibas, through a spokesman, declined to comment. Concerned Veterans for America, which lists the same phone number as that used by Americans for Prosperity—a political advocacy group that the Koch brothers founded—did not return a message seeking comment.
Although it was not immediately clear whether the group is only running ads for Bibas, two press releases from the group issued earlier this month touted fellow nominees Allison Eid, nominated for a spot on the Tenth Circuit, and Ralph Erickson, who was nominated for a spot on the Eighth Circuit.
Bibas, however, may have a unique connection to the organization, as earlier this year University of Pennsylvania Law School announced it received $2.2 million from the Charles Koch Foundation to establish a new criminal justice research initiative.
I should note that many law schools and universities, including mine, have received money from the Koch Foundation with the proviso that no political strings are attached. If you have access, you can read more here.