The scene is straight from Campaign Cinema 101. Natalie Mihalek, self-proclaimed “working mom,” appears in a nice-but-not-too-nice living room, making her seem just like you.
She never says where she’s from. But since this is an ad for suburban Minneapolis Congressman Erik Paulsen, the implication is she’s just an everyday mom from, say, Plymouth or Osseo. The kind who brings lemon bars to science fairs and cheers supportively at her daughter’s T-ball games.
She’s here to talk about how “thrilled” she is with Erik Paulsen’s “middle-class tax cut.”
Hardworking Minnesotans in #MN03 are seeing lower taxes, higher salaries, and expanded benefits. That means families have more financial stability and peace of mind thanks to @RepErikPaulsen's commitment to pro-growth tax reform. pic.twitter.com/iCYDnNRH5n— American Action Network (@AAN) March 21, 2018
What middle-class tax cut? you ask.
Forgive the confusion.
Natalie Mihalek: Working Mom is apparently referring to the massive Trump tax cuts, more than 80 percent of which went to large corporations and the very wealthy. The idea was to give large piles of money to the guys who already have large piles of money, who would then create jobs and raise your pay.
Though no one could have predicted it, they decided to keep it all instead. One study of Fortune 500 companies showed that only 4 percent of their workers received bonuses or wage hikes. So calling it a “middle-class tax cut” is a bit like calling Guantanamo an “inexpensive resort.”
Yet none of this would be helpful to mention in an Erik Paulsen ad. Instead, Natalie prefers to highlight how “my bonus and bigger paycheck are giving my family peace of mind.” She then urges voters to call Paulsen to encourage him to “keep fighting for middle-class families.”
But as it turns out, Natalie Mihalek is not actually a T-ball enthusiast from Osseo. In real life, she’s Natalie Mihalek: Banker, Divorce Lawyer & Candidate for the Pennsylvania House. Only in her spare time does she pretend to be a working mom from California to Florida, providing the same televised shows of gratitude for 24 Republican candidates around the country.
The spots, part of a $1 million buy running since spring, are the work of the American Action Network. Founded by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, the group is essentially the political version of a money laundering operation.
Wealthy conservatives have sent him $21 million in this year alone. But because the network is technically a non-profit, donors get to remain secret. Coleman then relays the laundered loot to political action committees, or spends it on supplicants like Paulsen, with no trace of the sugar daddies picking up the tab.
You have to admit: Seeing an ad from the American Action Network – Action! America! – is a lot more convincing than one “Paid for by Prescott Wellington’s Oligarch Welfare Fund.”
If one were to quibble, one might suggest that it wouldn’t have taken Coleman much effort to find a real Minnesota mom. Perhaps one who got a real bonus, and is actually seeing prettier numbers in her real paycheck.
Then again, that elusive species known as the banker/lawyer/GOP candidate/working mom could be a bit hard to find in Osseo. Which may be all for the better.
Given that neither Paulsen nor the Republican Party are on the best of terms with women these days, a politician from Pittsburgh might be the only one willing to stick to the script.