DSCC Ad Blasts McConnell for the Same Vote Schumer Cast

An ad being launched in Kentucky Wednesday against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, criticizing McConnell for his support for a controversial banking bill in 1999, omits one key fact--DSCC chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) himself also supported the bill.

Schumer on Wednesday touted the TV ad promoting Democratic candidate Bruce Lunsford, McConnell's opponent. The ad ties McConnell to the current financial crisis and the Senate-approved, $700 billion Wall Street bailout by noting his support for the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act in 1999, which President Clinton signed in an effort to ease regulation and promote competition between banks and financial institutions.

The Lunsford ad never mentions the bill by name, although the DSCC confirmed that was the intended reference. The ad shows a newspaper headline about the bailout bill and says "career politicians like Mitch McConnell" are to blame, stating that McConnell took $4 million in contributions from Wall Street firms, "got rid of the government regulations they didn't like, and let the billionaires and CEOs stuff their pockets with cash."

The Nov. 4, 1999 Senate vote for the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act, also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act, was 90-8, with Schumer voting in favor. The eight "no" votes included seven Democrats and Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama. The bill allowed commercial and investment banks to merge by overturning a Depression-era law that had prohibited banks from offering other financial services such as insurance or investments.

DSCC spokesman Matt Miller defended the ad and Schumer's vote by saying the Lunsford ad "is about far more than any one vote."

"It's about how Mitch McConnell has rubber stamped the Bush economic policies and pushed for the near total deregulatation of business throughout his entire career," Miller said "Those McConnell-Bush policies have created the economic crisis we're in today, and he'll do anything he can to not answer for that record."

The McConnell campaign has hit back quickly, posting a Web video attacking Schumer and coordinating a point-by-point response that notes that Wall Street firms are among the biggest contributors to the DSCC, citing figures from the Center for Responsive Politics that show Securities & Investment firms have sent $45 million to the committee in the past two election cycles. The campaign also released excerpts of a Schumer floor speech in which he called the bill "vital for the future of our country," and noted that the 90 senators who voted for its passage included Democrats such as vice presidential nominee Joe Biden (D-Del.), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry (D-Mass.).

-J. Taylor Rushing