Conservative PAC, tied to anti-vaccine misinformation, spent $7 million on a RFK Jr. Super Bowl ad

The Super PAC "American Values 2024" spent $7 million dollars on a Super Bowl ad supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s presidential bid. Brian Schwartz, Political Finance Reporter for CNBC, reports that the Super PAC spent $7 million for the 30-second spot. The Hill describes the ad as "learning on the legacy of former President John F. Kennedy, repeating clips, slogans and images from his 1960 presidential campaign." Deadline provides more information about the ad:

The spot comes from the American Values PAC, which is supporting Kennedy's campaign. The PAC had almost $15 million cash on hand as of the end of December, and major donors include Timothy Mellon and Gavin de Becker.

Political strategist Robert Shrum, speechwriter and consultant for Edward M. Kennedy, wrote on X/Twitter, "This RFK Jr. Super Bowl ad is a straight out plagiarism of JFK ad from 1960. What a fraud- and to quote Lloyd Bentsen with a slight amendment, 'Bobby, you're no John Kennedy.' Instead you are a Trump ally."

The Hill provides additional details:

The spot, just before the highly anticipated halftime show, generated fervor on social media and was the first political ad of the big game broadcast.

The ad cost $7 million, PAC co-chair Tony Lyons confirmed to The Hill.

"The panicked DC power brokers are working overtime to keep Kennedy off the ballot because they know he can and will end their culture of greed and corruption. They offer us soaring inflation, forever wars, and chronic disease," Lyons said in a statement to The Hill. 

"RFK Jr. offers us real change along with freedom, trust and hope," he continued. "Like his uncle and his father, Kennedy is a corruption-fighter, and it's no wonder the [Democratic National Committee] is trying every old trick and inventing new tricks to stop him. The public sees through it all and won't stand for it."

Kennedy started his presidential campaign as a Democrat but switched to an independent bid in October, and he has reportedly been interested in the Libertarian Party line. His unorthodox, anti-establishment campaign has attracted a small but unique bipartisan coalition of voters.

Web searches for "RFK" skyrocketed after the ad aired, according to Google Trends, with terms related to the candidate getting as much as 100 times as many searches as average.

Open Secrets (their tagline is: "Following the Money in Politics") states that political viewpoint of "American Values 2024" is "Conservative." Factcheck further describes the PAC, which has strong ties to organizations that spread anti-vaccine misinformation:

American Values 2024, formerly the People's Pharma Movement, is a hybrid political action committee supporting independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s presidential campaign.

As a hybrid PAC, the group can function both as a super PAC, raising unlimited funds for independent expenditures, and as a traditional political action committee, giving money to candidates directly. It must have separate bank accounts for each purpose.

The group was co-founded in 2022 by Mark Gorton, CEO of Tower Research Capital and creator of file-sharing platform LimeWire, and Tony Lyons, head of independent book publishing company SkyHorse Publishing. Gorton and Lyons serve as co-chairs of the PAC.

Both Gorton and Lyons have been affiliated with Kennedy in the past. Gorton told CNBC in May that, in 2021, he donated $1 million to Children's Health Defense, a Kennedy-run nonprofit that frequently spreads anti-vaccine misinformation. Meanwhile, Lyons has published several of Kennedy's books, including "The Real Anthony Fauci" and "A Letter to Liberals."

Previously: RFK to run as independent