Independent group backing Williams for Philly mayor starts $500,000 ad campaign [video]

     Ads supporting state Sen. Anthony Williams in the Philadelphia mayoral campaign will begin Friday. The Susquehanna International Group is helping bankroll the $500,000 television ad buy. (NewsWorks file photo)

    Ads supporting state Sen. Anthony Williams in the Philadelphia mayoral campaign will begin Friday. The Susquehanna International Group is helping bankroll the $500,000 television ad buy. (NewsWorks file photo)

    American Cities, the independent expenditure group backing state Sen. Anthony Williams in the Philadelphia mayor’s race, has placed a television ad buy in excess of $500,000 for a media campaign that begins Friday, according to three sources familiar with with the placement.

    American Cities spokesman Joshua Morrow confirmed that the ad buy was “substantial” and that the ads go up Friday, but declined to discuss the dollar amount of the purchase.

    Campaign reports filed earlier this year showed that three principals of the Bala Cynwyd-based Susquehanna International Group had contributed $250,000 to the committee last year. One of the three, Joel Greenburg, said in a recent interview that the trio plans to back Williams with significant support in the Democratic primary.

    The Susquehanna Group principals, who are strong backers of charter schools and school vouchers, contributed more than $5 million to Williams’ 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

    American Cities is registered with the state of Pennsylvania as an “independent expenditure only” committee, which means it can raise unlimited contributions and spend whatever it chooses in the race as long as it doesn’t coordinate with the candidate it supports.

    The effort could give Williams an edge over candidates struggling to raise money under the city’s contribution limits.

    For some pespective on the scale of the American Cities’ $500,000 ad buy, it’s more than the Williams’ campaign had on hand in it’s last campaign filing, which reported fundraising through December 31st.

    Two other independent expenditure committees are running ads for former City Councilman Jim Kenney, but neither seems to be making ad buys nearly as large as the initial purchase from American Cities.

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