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Koch-Backed Group Spends Millions in Ohio, Nevada Senate Races

Freedom Partners Action Fund, a super PAC financed by the Charles and David Koch network, has announced a $2.7 million television and digital ad buy in Ohio's Senate race. News of the new spending comes just two days after the group announced it was placing $1.2 million worth of advertising in Nevada's Senate race.

The weekend's $3.7 million ad buy brings the group's spending to $19.3 million in a handful of states with competitive Senate races.

The conservative activist brothers, who oversee a donor network that planned to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on politics and policy in 2015 and 2016, had decided to forgo the presidential election after Donald Trump clinched the nomination and instead focus on the battle for control of the Senate.

Image: Ted Strickland
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland delivers the State of the State address to a joint session of the Ohio General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, Jan 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon) Paul Vernon / AP

In Ohio, where Republican Sen. Rob Portman is being challenged by former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, the ad charges that Strickland "left Ohio in a bad spot."

"Ohio had a rainy day fund and Ted Strickland ran it into practically nothing," Tricia, a small business owner says in the ad. "He left the state with a $6 billion shortfall and he did that while raising taxes."

David Bergstein, spokesman for Strickland, said the claims in the ad are false.

"Senator Portman's shadowy Washington backers are out with another false ad attacking Ted Strickland — but independent fact checkers have already ruled the claims in their ad "false" and "misleading," Bergstein said in a statement.

Additionally, the super PAC is in the process of securing ad time in Florida, where Sen. Marco Rubio just announced his candidacy for reelection.

The Koch network had undetermined plans to spend money in Florida's Senate race. But now that Rubio has changed his mind and decided to run for re-election, the group has reserved television airtime beginning Aug. 31, the day after the Florida primary.

"We support Sen. Marco Rubio's reelection bid," James Davis, a spokesman for the network, said. "Sen. Rubio has been a strong leader in the Senate on a number of issues, including fighting against the [Export-Import] Bank and opposing wasteful spending increases."

Rubio must still win a primary, however. It was a crowded field until Rubio decided to jump in last week, but fellow Republican Carlos Beruff is the only candidate who has shown no signs of intending to drop out. Rep. Chris Murphy is expected to win his primary on the Democratic side.

On Friday, the group announced a $1.2 million ad buy in Nevada against Democratic candidate Catherine Cortez Masto. She is running against Rep. Joe Heck to replace Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.