Originally Posted Online: Oct. 08, 2012, 5:20 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 09, 2012, 2:14 pm

New ad blasts Bustos for EM's electronic welcome sign

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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

Photo: Staff Photos
Cheri Bustos, 17th Congressional District Democratic challenger, of East Moline, and U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona.

Republicans have released a new attack ad against Democrat Cheri Bustos, this time hitting her for supporting a $40,000 electronic sign while she was an East Moline alderwoman.

The "Bustos billboard," as the National Republican Congressional Committee ad dubs the digital welcome to sign, is at 11th Street and 18th Avenue in East Moline.

"It's a great way to greet people coming into our town," Scott Feldt, East Moline's former director of economic development, said in 2010 around the time the sign was erected.

The NRCC, however, calls the sign an example of "frivolous spending" by Ms. Bustos.

The sign was not paid for with city funds, but with nearly $250,000 in federal earmark by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that East Moline City Council meeting minutes state Ms. Bustos helped obtain. Earmarks are allocations of money for specific projects in spending bills, typically to benefit a congressman's home district.

Ms. Bustos is challenging U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona. The Bustos campaign said the new commercial was "deceitful," laying responsibility for its content at the feet of Rep. Schilling, although the ad was produced by the NRCC independently of the Schilling campaign.

The NRCC ad implies the sign personally benefited Ms. Bustos, but a Bustos spokesman said, in reality it's used to promote community events.

Earlier NRCC commercials criticized Ms. Bustos for supporting a $625,000 water main project in East Moline that was unanimously approved by the council and part of a project begun before she joined the council.

The NRCC ad is the latest example of the money being spent by outside groups in the 17th District, which has now passed the $4 million, making the race one of the most expensive in the country in terms of independent expenditures. In the 2010 election cycle, $3.7 million was spent by outside groups in the district.

Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce made unleashed $620,000 on a new campaign opposing Ms. Bustos.