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A new outside group is spending big money to help Sen. Orrin Hatch.

The American Action Network, a politically active non profit, launched a TV ad Monday that slams former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, one of Hatch's GOP rivals.

The 30-second spot will run until March 15, when Utah Republicans will attend their caucus meetings to elect delegates to the state convention.

A spokesman for the group said the ad purchase cost "in the low six figures"

The group's ad slams Liljenquist for supporting a bill to exempt lawmakers' emails from public records, though he later opposed that effort.

"What do we really know about state Sen. Dan Liljenquist? It's tough to say considering his brief time in public office, propensity to skip votes when he was there and his opposition to government transparency," said Brian Walsh, president of the American Action Network, which is led by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman.

Their ad is similar to those run by Freedom Path, another outside group supporting Hatch's campaign.

On the other side is FreedomWorks, the tea party group that launched a "Retire Hatch" campaign months ago.

While the outside groups supporting Hatch have launched TV ads, FreedomWorks has stuck primarily with less costly mailers, including one 40-page booklet outlining votes Hatch has made that they disagree with, led by his vote for the Wall Street bailout and the creation of the Children's Health Insurance Program.

FreedomWorks' Russ Walker dismissed Hatch's backers.

"Orrin's got a lot of friends. That's what 36 years in Congress will get you," he said. "It's no wonder they come to his aid when he is desperate."— Matt CanhamTwitter: @mattcanham

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