This is probably not the kind of pat on the back President Barack Obama was hoping for.
The Independence Institute, a libertarian-leaning think tank in the important swing state of Colorado, announced last week that it aims to raise $20,000 for an ad congratulating Obama For America co-chair and former Denver Mayor Federico Peña on his venture-capital business record.
Peña, like GOP challenger Mitt Romney, made his fortune as a private equity manager whose firm shut down factories in at least three different industries, laying off hundreds of workers in the process. (RELATED: Obama national co-chair works in private equity, like Romney)
“I believe this is a story worth telling,” Independence Institute President Jon Caldara wrote Sept. 5 on his blog. “But the media in Denver, including the paper of record, the Denver Post, won’t touch it.”
If his group can raise the funds, Caldara promised, “we will run a full-page ‘thank you’ to the national co-chair of the Obama re-election campaign and help educate the hundreds of thousands of Post readers to the importance of capitalism.”
“We have raised 20 percent of the goal so far,” Caldara told The Daily Caller.
Peña’s private-equity role was first highlighted by CompleteColorado.com, a news aggregator that mocked the Obama campaign for failing to apply its anti-Romney “vulture capitalist” label to the former Clinton cabinet member.
The Independence Institute’s ad highlights three companies that Peña’s Vestar Capital Partners successfully turned around despite plant closures and job losses required to complete the process. The stories are similar to those GOP challenger Mitt Romney’s campaign has tried to tell about companies Bain Capital rescued.
“Your venture capital firm closed a Del Monte Foods plant in California, sadly displacing hundreds of employees … but today Del Monte is still alive and thriving!” the ad reads.
“Your venture capital firm laid-off hundreds of workers at Birdseye Foods … but hundreds are still employed because Birdseye did not fail! Your venture capital firm closed three domestic factories with the Solo Cup Company costing hundreds of jobs … But Solo Cup is still in business. supplying real jobs.”
He said his organization will spend whatever money they raise to congratulate Peña for his success, even if it has to be on the radio or with other less expensive ad buys. The Denver Post, he explained, originally quoted him a price of $6,800 for the full page, but then raised the rate three-fold when they saw the concept on paper.