Turn Right USA's ad targeting Democratic candidate Janice Hahn has gotten nearly universal condemnation from both sides of the political aisle (including Hahn opponent Craig Huey, who is also vying to replace Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) in CA-36). The filmmaker behind the YouTube video told TPM that's just what he was hoping for.
Ladd Ehlinger, Jr., said he and a couple of friends got together and decided to "toss together a PAC and see if we can make something crazy." So Ehlinger and G. Rick Marshall, a friend from California who apparently served on the state committee of the 1996 Alan Keyes presidential campaign, tossed together some money and formed their own "super PAC."
Ehlinger, who says he's worked as a "writer, director, producer, editor, cinematographer, 3D animator, blogger, programmer, weapon systems designer, even radio talk show host," has produced a number of high-profile political ads, including an ad featuring the Founding Fathers calling the health care bill slavery, one portraying House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as the Wicked Witch in the "Wizard of Oz" and an infamous spot he produced for Dale "Don't Give A Rip" Peterson in his race for Alabama secretary of agriculture.
Todoroff, a certified public accountant with conservative point of view, said he was approached by someone -- he wouldn't say who -- to become treasurer of the PAC as a way of making some extra money. But now that he's seen the ad he's reconsidering his affiliation with the organization.
Ehlinger said he called up a modeling agency to get the actress to play the pole dancer on behalf of the "small dinky organization" and got in touch with the rap group Splack Pack (who were "absolutely fun as hell to work with"). They filmed the ad in a day in Atlanta. He dismissed charges that the ad was racist and sexist.
"I was counting on people actually looking at the video and completely misunderstanding it. if you actually watch it carefully, you will notice lots of gangsters," Ehlinger said, pointing to the mugshots of 1920s gangsters featured in the video. "The point being, it is not the amount of melanin in their skin that makes them a gang member."
The Splack Pack are featured in the ad singing a version of their original song "Shake That Ass Bitch." Ehlinger told TPM that he wanted to use the song "Let's See You Dance Sucka" featured in an episode of South Park, but learned with a bit of research that song was actually a parody of Splack Pack's tune.
Ehlinger also noted that he made the choice to put the Democratic candidate in "booty shorts" instead of "a g-string" and noted that ad "basically called her a bad exotic dancer because usually exotic dancers make money instead of giving it away."
He said that liberals wouldn't have had an issue if someone made a "viral video showing Sarah Palin dancing around in little booty shorts."
There's not much information available on Turn Right PAC. Ehlinger said he and his buddies funded the YouTube video out of pocket.
The Federal Election Commission's mail center only received the group's registration papers on Monday morning at 8:49 a.m. By the next afternoon, they'd sparked an Internet controversy.
Their headquarters? A mailbox at cash checking place in Gardena, Calif.
"Oh they just receive mail here," an employee who answered the phone at Western Avenue Check Cashing told TPM. He said he didn't have any contact information for the group.
As for Ehlinger -- who says he's worked for "NASA and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command making animations, videos, and various classified websites," and is producing "a post-apocalyptic feature film about the last man on Earth, conservative talk show host Doug Trench, a.k.a. The Trench Mouth" -- he says to stay tuned.
"There's one on health care I want to do, there's probably one of two more I wanna mess around with -- a campaign here and there," Ehlinger said. "I want to do a bunch of issues."