Americans for Limited Terms

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Americans for Limited Terms
Affiliated with:Americans for Limited Government
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Americans for Limited Terms was an issue advocacy group for term limits. It was founded in 1994 by Bob Costello and was active through 2002. In 2002, ALT renamed itself as Americans for Limited Government. ALT was known for running issue advocacy ads to promote awareness in the electorate about where politicians stood on the term limits issue. A 1994 article in Time magazine said that ALT's "national drives were devastatingly effective."[1]

Issue ads versus express advocacy ads

In 1996, the group came under heat about the distinction between "issue ads" and "candidate endorsement." That year, ALT ran a $24,000 radio ad campaign in Wisconsin race that showcased State Assemblyman (D), David Travis opposition of term limits.[2][3] Travis and the elections board responded by suing Americans for Limited Terms stating that the ads were "express advocacy" instead of "issue ads."

Eric O'Keefe, who served as President of ALT, was quoted in an article defending his position,

"There's an effort by incumbents to clamp down on issue ads because it's the only area of campaign spending that's tilted against incumbents. In my view it's among the most important campaign spending because it's an outlet for dissenting voices. It's extremely vital in democracy."[4]
ALT and O'Keefe prevailed in the lawsuit.

In 1998, Americans for Limited Terms spent $5 million on ads and direct mail in 26 U.S. House districts.[5]

Stop the Politicians

In a 2002 California campaign surrounding the ballot measure California Proposition 45, the group opposing Prop 45--called "Stop The Politicians"--received over $1 million from ALT.

Single Issue Group

ALT took a bright line approach to term limits, and generally refused to support the efforts of organizations and politicians who supported lengthier terms than ALT was willing to go along with--3 terms (or six years) for U.S. House and 2 terms (or twelve years) for U.S. Senators. Republicans criticized ALT for running its issue ads in districts where their candidates were on the wrong side of ALT's strict position on term limits.[6]

Conservatives versus liberals

As a single-issue group, in 1998 Americans for Limited Terms incurred the anger of some social conservative groups when it ran issue ads in congressional districts spotlighting social conservatives who did not agree with term limits:[7]

This year, in key Republican primaries and in one special congressional election, both Wisconsin-based Americans for Limited Terms and Washington-based U.S. Term Limits have weighed in with expensive television ad campaigns supporting pro-abortion, pro-gay-rights and pro-tax candidates who have nonetheless signed a pledge to serve only three terms in the House.

Recent news

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See also

External links