"We're not dealing with any $4 trillion bank bailout. To confuse people and put forward an ad with a lot of false information, and not tell people who you are?," Tester said. "I cannot believe the system works this way."
In addition to Montana, the ad is running in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Colorado, among other states.
CTP's attorney, James Bopp Jr., was behind the recent RNC "purity resolution," which aimed to get all GOP candidates to abide by a pledge not to waver from conservative orthodoxy. Bopp, an RNC committee member, also represented Citizen's United in its successful bid to challenge laws limiting corporate spending on politics. And he has sued the FEC, arguing that CTP shouldn't be required to file any disclosure reports with the agency.
Factcheck.org has already demolished the ad's central factual claim. The ad calls financial reform legislation a "new $4 trillion bailout for banks." Bopp told Factcheck.org that that description is based on a Bloomberg News opinion piece by the conservative columnist David Reilly, who wrote that the bill "authorizes Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. So much for 'no-more-bailouts' talk." But as Factcheck.org points out, "the ad obscures the fact that the Fed already had such authority to act in 'unusual and exigent circumstances' without any cap" -- and it tapped that authority to bail out AIG and Bear Stearns in 2008.
Bopp has in the past spoken openly to TPM about his work. But in this case, he didn't immediately respond to our request for comment, or to that of the Billings Gazette.
One other point worth making on the ad: As Ben Smith noted last week, it seems to draw heavily from advice given recently to Republicans by their message guru Frank Luntz, about how to talk about the financial reform bill. Confronted with the problem that Wall Street banks are deeply unpopular and most Americans support efforts to rein them in, Luntz simply urged GOPers, in a memo, to depict the bill as a bailout for the banks. "$4 trillion more for more bailouts. Oppose the big bank bailout bill," wrote Luntz. He left unaddressed the fact that that depiction of the bill is essentially a flat-out lie.
Here's CTP's ad: