Conservative group spends big to back Transportation chairman

Conservative group spends big to back Transportation chairman
© Greg Nash

An outside conservative group is spending $200,000 in a last-minute push to help Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) win a potentially tough primary race next week.

The American Action Network launched a TV ad on Monday that highlights Shuster’s conservative message, and evokes images of GOP presidential frontrunner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE – a heavy favorite in his district.

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Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is facing Tea Party insurgent Art Halvorson on April 26 as he seeks an eighth term in Congress.

“Words conservatives appreciate: Stop ObamaCare. Lower taxes. Zero amnesty. Build wall. Balance budget,” the ad says amid a cheering crowd from the last GOP convention. “This is the time for true conservatives. The time for Bill Shuster.”

AAN said the average viewer will see the TV spot 10 times during the week it’s on the air. The group is also targeting GOP primary voters with digital advertisements and get-out-the-vote phone calls.

“Bill Shuster is a strong conservative fighter who is working to change Washington,” said Mike Shields, president of AAN. “He will fight for the people of Pennsylvania who are sick of Obamacare, dangerous borders and reckless Washington spending.”

Halvorson has seized on reports that Shuster is dating a top airline lobbyist and tried to paint the chairman as a Washington insider. Halvorson, a real estate investor and retired Coast Guard captain, called for Shuster to resign over the relationship during a heated primary debate on Saturday.

“We have a government that has been taken over by lobbyists. I’m not owned by the lobbyists. Mr. Shuster is,” Halvorson said. “He cavorts with a lobbyist who lobbies his committee, passes legislation that favors his lobbyist. That’s a conflict of interest of the highest order.”

Shuster acknowledged on Saturday that he has a private relationship with Shelley Rubino, vice president of global government affairs for the trade organization Airlines for America, but said he has gone “above and beyond” House rules to ensure it is an appropriate relationship.  He blasted Halvorson for running a negative campaign and accused him of being a carpetbagger.

“What’s disgraceful is Art Halvorson and his continued personal attacks on me,” Shuster said.