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LA Times: Behind the attack ads [View All]

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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-18-10 07:46 PM
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LA Times: Behind the attack ads
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Behind the attack ads

The DISCLOSE Act would be a remedy in the face of a slew of anonymously funded campaign ads.

Whatever the outcome of the November congressional elections, the voters are already the losers. They are being inundated by attack ads paid for by organizations with benign-sounding names that refuse to identify their donors. Democracy 21, a campaign-spending watchdog group, estimates that as much as $300 million will be spent anonymously in this election cycle; voters will never know where the money came from.

Consider this (misleading) attack on Sen. Barbara Boxer:

"California seniors are worried. Barbara Boxer voted to cut spending on Medicare benefits by $500 billion, cuts so costly to hospitals and nursing homes that they could stop taking Medicare altogether. Boxer's cuts would sharply reduce benefits for some and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, and millions of Americans won't be able to keep the plan or doctor they already have. Check the facts and take action. Call Boxer. Stop the Medicare cuts."

The ad is sponsored by Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a group advised by master Republican strategist Karl Rove. Established as a "nonprofit social action organization," Crossroads GPS has not disclosed its donors. Campaign reform advocates are asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the group to determine whether it's in violation of a requirement that it not be "primarily engaged" in supporting or opposing candidates.


There is no cogent argument against maximum disclosure. (The notion that disclosure would lead to the harassment of donors is laughable.) Nor is there any 1st Amendment argument for secrecy. Even as it ruled this year that corporations had the right to engage in political spending, the Supreme Court upheld disclosure requirements, noting a previous holding that "disclosure could be justified based on a governmental interest in 'provid(ing) the electorate with information' about the sources of election-related spending."


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