American elections are officially for sale

From DemocracyNow (click on link to see the video):

Campaign Cash: The Independent Fundraising Gold Rush Since Citizens United Ruling

A pair of campaign finance watchdog groups have called for a probe of a new nonprofit formed by Karl Rove to spend over $50 million this election cycle to help elect Republican candidates.The Center for Public Integrity reports Republicans and Democrats each now boast ten or so deep-pocketed independent groups with plans to spend collectively some $500 million or more. The groups are all taking advantage of this year’s Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case that cleared the way for unlimited spending by corporations, unions and other interest groups on election ads. We speak to journalist and author Peter Stone of the Center for Public Integrity.

Overall, just for perspective, the Republican groups are likely to outspend the liberal groups, the Democratic allies, by a three-to-two, maybe even two-to-one, margin. They should be spending something on the order of $300 million, based on their budgets, based on what—the numbers they have put out publicly.

It spent roughly a hundred—I’m sorry, roughly a million dollars early in the year to help elect Scott Brown in Massachusetts. The leader and founder of the group, Nick Ryan, told me that they raised and spent roughly $8 million in 2008 on issue ads to help Republicans. This year, he told me, they’re going to roughly triple that to as much as $25 million.

The most recent iteration of this is Americans for Prosperity, which is the key group in Washington that’s been getting Koch money. They say they’re going to spend about $45 million this year on the elections, and they, too, have been running a lot of ads.

AMERICAN FUTURE FUND AD: For centuries, Muslims built mosques where they won military victories. Now they want to build a mosque at Ground Zero, where Islamic terrorists killed 3,000 Americans. It’s like the Japanese building at Pearl Harbor. The Muslim cleric building the mosque believes America was partly responsible for 9/11 and is raising millions overseas from secret donors. But incredibly, Bruce Braley supports building a mosque at Ground Zero. Tell Braley what you think.

As I reported later, the Chamber decided early in the summer that they wanted to spend significantly more than they had ever spent on a federal election campaign. And Tom Donohue, in a speech in late June to a lot of trade association leaders, powerful leaders of major business groups in Washington, upped the ante by telling a group out in California that they were going to be spending $75 million, which is more than double the previous high of $36 million.

\Wesleyan Media Project says the Chamber aired more than 8,000 ads on behalf of Republican candidates in September—as of September 15th, I should say?

Well, the US Chamber of Commerce is interesting, because we’ve heard a lot about new groups that have popped up, like American Crossroads and the American Action Network, but the Chamber is really sort of the granddaddy of a lot of this activity. Officially, they’re bipartisan. If you look at their record over recent years, though, the lion’s share of their support, their PAC money, and the issue ads they typically run in campaigns, have been tilted heavily toward Republicans.

It’s important to note that this is perfectly legal. What they can’t do, and what they have to be very careful about, is coordinating any of their activities with candidates’ campaigns or national party committees. And they had lawyers there who briefed them on this. And they say they’re being very careful about this. So far, there’s no public evidence of any coordination. But a lot of these groups are stocked with veterans, particularly American Crossroads—are stocked with veterans of the NRCC, the Republican House Committee, the NRSC, the RNC. They’ve got a lot of heavyweights who have worked at these places before. The Chamber, though, participated in this meeting.

((and here is Peter Stone’s very informative article at the Center for Public Integrity))

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