With post-Labor Day campaigning for the midterm election intensifying, outside interest groups are pouring in money for television commercials to back Republicans in races for House and Senate seats.
An array of Republican-oriented independent groups have been established so they can accept contributions of individuals and corporations in unlimited amounts without disclosing the source, according to the New York Times
. This is what campaign finance reform advocates feared after the Supreme Court's January ruling on the Citizens United case, which lifted restrictions on direct corporate and union spending on political advertising.
In Senate campaigns, Republican-leaning interest groups outspent Democratic-oriented organizations on television ads by $10.9 million to $1.3 million between Aug. 1 and Sept. 8, the Campaign Media Analysis Group
reported. In House contests, the disparity was $3.1 million to $1.5 million. It is not clear who is behind all of the advertising. The Times said two $1 million contributions turned up in the public filings of the group American Crossroads, a Republican advocacy group and big player in the political media market. The donations were from Louisiana companies linked to Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, a Republican donor who helped finance Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004.
"While each of our campaigns has the resources they need to be competitive, we now face shadow groups putting their thumbs on the scale with undisclosed, unlimited and unregulated donations," Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told the Times.
The Democrats have not been passive. The Democratic National Committee has stepped up its effort to make House Minority Leader John Boehner an unappealing symbol of the Republican Party, linking him to unpopular policies that hurt the GOP in the 2006 and 2008 elections. A new ad, airing on cable television, criticizes Boehner for his opposition to a recent bill that provided government money to save the jobs of teachers and safety workers in the states, the Times
said. The legislation was paid for in part by closing a tax loophole used by companies that do business overseas.
President Obama mentioned Boehner by name eight times last week during an appearance in suburban Cleveland and singled him out again Monday in Virginia. Polls suggest the general public is not very familiar with Boehner
(pronounced Baynur) a perpetually tan
lawmaker who bears a faint resemblance to a young Walter Matthau, and represents a district in western Ohio.
"It comes with the territory," Boehner told reporters recently when asked about all of the attention. "They are trying every way possible to make this election about something other than them. But they are kidding themselves. This election is going to be a referendum on their policies and votes over the last 20 months. They can do whatever they want." Should the GOP retake control for the House after the November election Boehner, in his 10th term, is in line to become speaker of the House.
Boehner is a conservative who said over the weekend he favored extending the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers, but would probably vote to retain them for earners making less than $250,000 -- President Obama's preference -- if that is the only legislative option. Democrats didn't thank him. They seized on his remarks as a sign of dissension in GOP ranks.
Filed Under: Senate
, 2010 Elections
, Obama Administration
, Barack Obama
, Campaign Finance