Lawmakers are racing to come up with a solution that will allow Puerto Rico to stave off default on its $73 billion in debt before payments are due in the coming weeks. The Puerto Rican government last week enacted a payment moratorium that will likely ensure a default on $400 million due May 1 if Congress doesn’t act. The government on Monday proposed a new restructuring of its debt to bondholders, offering a modest raise in the amount it would pay per year on the majority of its outstanding debt.
Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican, told reporters today that Puerto Rico has become the number one issue in his district due to CFIF’s ads.
“Who’d have thought the most pressing issue in the First District of Utah would be Puerto Rico?” Bishop said. “The commercials they’re running against me have been helpful… Number one, they’re over the top, and number two, they have given my phone number out there.” Bishop said that’s allowed his office to effectively explain the issue to constituents.
CFIF doesn’t reveal its donors but has received grants from conservative groups American Action Network and Crossroads GPS, according to disclosures from those organizations.
CFIF dropped $900,000 on airtime on CNN, MSNBC and CNBC, plus more than $500,000 on D.C.-area broadcast and cable, and $86,000 on radio spots in Bishop’s district, as well as those of fellow committee members Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.), according to data compiled for POLITICO by The Tracking Firm. The ads call the bill a bailout tantamount to allowing Puerto Rico to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy that would also open the door for states to follow suit — which proponents say is untrue. The spots urge viewers and listeners to contact their representatives.