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You Don’t Need to Know

© Ed Stein

Back in the last mid-term election, in 2006, outside interest groups spent $16 million on campaign ads for political candidates. Not chump change, but it is nothing compared to the $80 million already spent by outside groups in this election, and we still have almost a month to go.

Yes, the Supreme Court certainly opened up the floodgates to corporate spending, but that’s not the only problem. Republicans have long opposed campaign finance laws, saying limits were unnecessary as long as the sources of campaign funds were identified. But when Obama and the Democrats introduced the Disclose Act, which required disclosure by corporations and outside interest groups and restricted political activities by foreign-owned corporations, the Republicans filibustered it. Not a single Republican was even willing to discuss ways the bill could be amended to win their votes. In other words, they lied.

I suppose it is not surprising. After all, over 85% of this money is being spent for Republican candidates. And unlike 2006, when over 90% of donations were disclosed along with the donor’s identity, so far this year the majority of donations are secret.

Even worse, these shadowy, secretive groups are rather fond of negative ads, and don’t mind bending the truth. For example, the “American Future Fund” paid for ads created by Larry McCarthy, the same guy who created the “Willie Horton” ads that preyed on voters’ racial fears and help sabotage the candidacy of Michael Dukakis in 1988. In the new ads, they accuse Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) of supporting the building of the “mosque at ground zero”, even though Braley denies it.

The bottom line is that individuals can make contributions to political parties, but they are strictly limited in size and must be disclosed. Meanwhile, corporations have no limits and are not required to disclose anything when they spend tens of millions of dollars on political ads.



  1. Looks like the Shadowrun timeline got the details wrong but the overall picture right.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 7:35 am | Permalink
  2. Sammy wrote:

    When the aforementioned Supreme Court decision came down, I discussed it with a very conservative co-worker who thought it was a fantastic decision. When we debated the decision’s merits from a political campaign financing reform standpoint – something he has long been in favor of – he readily admitted it put campaign finance reform farther from being reality. When I asked how he reconciles those two diametrically opposed viewpoints he told me just favored the decision because it would favor Republican campaigns. In other words, winning over principles. From a conservative who supposedly believes in principles.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink
  3. Sammy wrote:

    Speaking of campaign ads, we have a local congressional seat up for grabs and both the Democrat and Republican have run vicious attack ads about each other. And they have each followed them up with calm, quiet ads chastising each other for vicious attack ads.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Permalink
  4. ebdoug wrote:

    Sammy your coworker certainly is not a hypocrit is he?

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink
  5. patriotsgt wrote:

    In my state (MD) i have yet to see an ad by an actual candidate for govenor. They are all (dem and repub) sponsored by either “friends of so and so” or some other entity. Which, I guess helps the candidates so they don’t have to spend money. The ads on both sides are vicious at times, and both are full of contradictory information of which half has to be false, but since neither candidate is actually making the claim (just their friends) I guess its OK. Falls into the purvue of 1st amendment and truthfulness (stolen valor et al).

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Permalink