WASHINGTON – Move over, MoveOn.org (search). The liberal-leaning group that has raised millions of dollars to run negative ads attacking President Bush now has a competitor on the right with a somewhat similar name.
One of the conservative group's ads criticizes Kerry for his actions when he was a private lawyer with a criminal defense practice.
A second ad, to be rolled out later, will focus on the political connections between Kerry and former Democratic presidential contender Al Sharpton.
"MoveOnForAmerica.org was created due to the Bush campaign's largely timid attack ads against Mr. Kerry," its site says.
Created by Republican political consultant Stephen Marks, it is the latest in a spate of "527s," independent soft-money groups that have sprung up on both sides of the aisle to influence voters.
Marks also worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican Governors Association, and served as a press secretary to President Bush's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, in his unsuccessful 1994 campaign.
He said his group has already raised $200,000 and aims to surpass $1 million by the election.
"We'll hopefully be successful like the Swift boat people," Marks said, referring to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a 527 organization whose ads have questioned Kerry's service in Vietnam.
Under the new campaign finance law, a ban on political ads by outside groups that mention presidential, House and Senate candidates went into effect on Friday — 60 days before the Nov. 2 election.
But groups are exempt from this ban if they use only donations from individuals and do not receive support from corporations or unions. However, some critics contend that all outside groups should be covered by the law and blame an incorrect interpretation by the Federal Election Commission for creating a loophole.
"The only reason they're getting away with it is the Federal Election Commission has refused to do its job and enforce the laws," said Fred Wertheimer, head of the campaign-finance watchdog Democracy 21.
Marks said the choice of the name was "just to get the press's attention," not to confuse potential donors.
"We want to kind of do what Moveon.org has done, but on the other side," Marks said. "We actually admire what they've done."
MoveOn.org did not return calls for comment Friday.