Give ’em props for originality. Common Sense Issues recently launched a radio ad attacking South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat likely to win a race that’s been basically ignored by other outside groups and the Beltway crowd.

Common Sense Issues also popped up in August in a nearby but even more unlikely place: North Dakota. That radio ad ridiculed Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), even though he isn’t up for re-election till 2012. At least Johnson has a race, of sorts — NPR political editor Ken Rudin rates it “Strong Democratic.” Perhaps Common Sense Issues landed in South Dakota because its executive director, Patrick Davis, used to be executive director of the state Republican Party.

The new radio ad assails Johnson — in a humorous way — for voting against tighter regulation of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae while collecting campaign contributions from the mortgage companies. It suggests that listeners “tell Tim Johnson to stop taking money from Washington lobbyists.”

Common Sense Issues is best known for its “Trust Huckabee” campaign during the Republican presidential primaries. The group received $50,000 in February from Don Carter, who was the founding owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

A predecessor organization, Common Sense Ohio, created quite a ruckus in 2006. That operation — which shares some leadership with Common Sense Issues — ran radio ads and controversial robocalls supporting GOP candidates in that year’s hot Senate races. It was bankrolled by Ohio investor and steadfast Republican donor Carl Lindner and Massachusetts anti-abortion, pro-abstinence advocate Raymond Ruddy.

This year, Lindner gave $400,000 to Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future, while Ruddy is the main financier for Born Alive Truth, which is running anti-Obama ads. And Common Sense is relegated to the Dakotas. Times have changed.

This originally appeared on The Secret Money Project Blog, a joint project of CIR and National Public Radio tracking the hidden cash in the 2008 election.

Will Evans is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal, covering labor and tech. His reporting has prompted government investigations, legislation, reforms and prosecutions. A series on working conditions at Amazon warehouses was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and won a Gerald Loeb Award. His work has also won multiple Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards, including for a series on safety problems at Tesla. Other investigations have exposed secret spying at Uber, illegal discrimination in the temp industry and rampant fraud in California's drug rehab system for the poor. Prior to joining The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2005, Evans was a reporter at The Sacramento Bee. He is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.