SaveAB site links to Mo. congressional candidate

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2009 5:08 PM

An Internet site created to oppose the sale of Anheuser-Busch to a Belgian brewer now is pointing people to a Missouri congressional candidate.

Republican Ed Martin founded the nonprofit group "SaveAB.com for America" last year and launched a Web site that signed up nearly 85,000 people against the sale of the St. Louis brewery to InBev. The effort failed to stop the brewery deal.

Martin, who served as chief of staff to former Republican Gov. Matt Blunt, announced this fall that he is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, of St. Louis, in the 2010 election.

Before launching his campaign, Martin said, the SaveAB Web site was taken down.

But the Web site recently went live again with a message bemoaning layoffs and cuts by Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, thanking various supporters and noting Martin is running for Congress. The revived SaveAB.com provides a link to Martin's campaign Web site for those "interested in finding out more or joining Ed Martin."

Earlier this week, a SaveAB e-mail account was used to send an identical message to about 40,000 people who had provided their e-mail addresses to the group.

Martin said Friday that since becoming a candidate he had received several inquiries about the SaveAB effort and wanted to update people both about the defunct organization and his current endeavors.

"My intention was not to use the list for the campaign or to promote me over Russ Carnahan or anything, it was to close the loop on the questions," Martin said.

Federal Election Commission regulations prohibit corporations from making expenditures "for communications that expressly advocate the election or defeat" of particular candidates.

The revived SaveAB Web site and e-mail "appears to be express advocacy" for Martin, said Paul Ryan, an associate legal counsel and the FEC program director for The Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C. The nonpartisan center analyzes campaign finance and election law issues.

Martin voluntarily dissolved SaveAB as a nonprofit corporation in March. Consequently, those particular Federal Election Commission regulations no longer apply to it, Ryan said.