American Values 2024, a political action committee aligned with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential bid, ran a surprise ad during the Super Bowl. The commercial, which aired in the second quarter, comes as the PAC bolsters a signature-gathering effort to get the independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 U.S. states.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.-aligned PAC runs Super Bowl ad
Kennedy tried to distance himself from the Super Bowl ad that came from the PAC in a post to X (formerly Twitter) on Monday, in which he apologized to his family.
“I'm so sorry if the Super Bowl advertisement caused anyone in my family pain,” he wrote. “The ad was created and aired by the American Values Super PAC without any involvement or approval from my campaign. FEC rules prohibit Super PACs from consulting with me or my staff. I love you all. God bless you.”
Super PACs are not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates or political parties, according to FEC advisories.
The spot, which cost $7 million to air nationally during the Super Bowl, drew instant reaction on social media, including from critics of the candidate.
The Kennedy-backing PAC was the only political group that ran an ad in the game as of press time. One political advertising executive, who didn’t have information on the campaign itself said: “He’s probably the only candidate where it makes sense to run a national [Super Bowl] spot: they have the money and he still needs to get ballot access in most states.”
Kennedy’s presidential bid has angered leading Democrats who fear he would steal votes from President Biden in what is likely to be a tight general election race with leading GOP contender Donald Trump. The Democratic National Committee last week began running an outdoor campaign in Michigan tying the American Values PAC with Trump donor Timothy Mellon, according to The Hill, which reported that billboards carrying that billboard carrying the language “RFK Jr. powered by MAGA Trump,” were set to begin running on Saturday.
American Values 2024 received $15 million from Mellon in 2023, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings cited by The Hill, which also noted that Mellon donated $10 million to Trump-aligned PAC MAGA Inc.
American Values is prioritizing ballot access in 12 states, according to its website: Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Texas, South Carolina and West Virginia. On Feb. 2, the PAC announced it would begin signature-gathering efforts on Feb. 13 in Maryland, Massachusetts, South Carolina and West Virginia.
The PAC is co-founded by Mark Gorton, founder and chairman of Tower Research Capital, a computerized trading firm; and Tony Lyons, an attorney and president of Skyhorse Publishing.
“The panicked DC power brokers are working overtime to keep Kennedy off the ballot because they know he can and will end their culture of greed and corruption,” Lyons said in a statement, in which he said the Democratic National Committee is trying to stop Kennedy. “RFK Jr offers us real change along with freedom, trust and hope. Like his uncle and his father, Kennedy is a corruption fighter.”
Kennedy has been a controversial figure for years, drawing criticism from mainstream Democrats and members of the Kennedy family for some of his views. Last year, he drew scrutiny for suggesting that COVID-19 was genetically engineered and “ethnically targeted” to spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people, as first reported by the New York Post. Kennedy defended himself on X, suggesting the report was “mistaken” and that “I have never, ever suggested that the COVID-19 virus was targeted to spare Jews.”
Some political advertising executives who spoke for this story said they see a national Super Bowl ad buy, the cost of which is about $7 million, as a waste of money for politicians.
Some politicians will be running regional Super Bowl campaigns. For example, Rep. Adam Schiff, who is in the race for U.S. Senate in California, is running Super Bowl ads in California markets, according to Mike Nellis, founder and CEO of Democratic-focused fundraising and ad agency Authentic and senior adviser to Schiff.
“A [political] spot can [do] good if targeted and backed up with digital opposed to a blanket national spot,” Nellis said.