Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Shadowy outside group spending $1.5 million to influence Arkansas Dem primary

It's worth stepping back and marveling at what's happening in Arkansas. A shadowy third-party group that's said to be backed by business interests -- nobody knows for sure -- is spending roughly $1.5 million to defeat Blanche Lincoln's primary foe, Bill Halter.

And they don't have to reveal where any of that cash came from. That's not a shocker, of course, to those who follow this stuff very closely. But it's extraordinary nonetheless.

The group, Americans for Job Security, has already gotten a ton of press for their ad featuring residents of India speaking in heavy accents as they thank Halter for exporting jobs to their country. Halter has denied that the company on whose board he served transfered any jobs overseas. But that spot reportedly is backed by a $1 million buy. So a lot of eyeballs are seeing it.

The group now has a second ad on the air that also accuses Halter of outsourcing jobs. A source close to the group tells me this spot has roughly $500,000 behind it, a sum that Alexander Burns also confirmed.

Lincoln, for her part, has denounced the ads. But this group is spending a total of $1.5 million, and perhaps more, to defeat Halter -- which will go a long way in Arkansas. To put that sum in perspective, consider that it's nearly three times the roughly $550,000 that the Halter campaign has on hand right now.

The group confirmed to me that it won't be revealing its funders, arguing that it's a 501c6 trade association that isn't required by law to do so. Of course, this could eventually change. Groups like this will be forced to reveal their funders if the new legislation being contemplated by Dems in response to Citizens United ever become law. But that won't happen in the immediate future, obviously.

Again, it's easy to get jaded about this kind of thing. Yet we shouldn't. It's not out of the realm of possibility that this group's spending could help decide this Senate primary -- without us ever knowing where the money came from, or who the group is even pulling for. That's a pretty big deal.

By Greg Sargent  |  May 6, 2010; 4:12 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Senate Dems  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Schumer calls McCain's bluff on AZ law
Next: Happy Hour Roundup

Comments

"It's not out of the realm of possibility that this group's spending could help decide this Senate primary."

But let's also not conclude after Halter loses that this was the reason.

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

But hey, according to conservatives, business has the same rights as individuals and they should be able to spend on campaigns as they please!

It says so in the their Declaration of Independence and is a right given to them by our Creator.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 6, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Sourcewatch has some information on these folks, the usual suspects...
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Americans_for_Job_Security

Posted by: bernielatham | May 6, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Consider the possibility that the money for these ads is from Republican-leaning sources who view Halter as more of a threat than Lincoln in the general election.
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections2/election_2010/election_2010_senate_elections/arkansas/election_2010_arkansas_senate

According to Rasmussen Reports, Halter polls slightly better against the main Republican Senatorial candidates than Lincoln does.

Posted by: MsJS | May 6, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: Any comparison between the SEIU spending on behalf of Halter and this "shadowy" group's spending on behalf of Lincoln?

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"But let's also not conclude after Halter loses that this was the reason."

Aree you happy that anonymous money is being used to affect a U.S. Senate race?

Posted by: wbgonne | May 6, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

And the SEIU is a union known to everyone. A bit different.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 6, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"Are you happy that anonymous money is being used to affect a U.S. Senate race?"

Is this something new?

Check Bernie's link. It's simply corporate money versus union money.

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

OT, pretty big news on Bernie Sanders' Audit the Fed amendment, looks like it's ready to roll!!!:

In order to allay some of the White House's and the Fed's concerns, Sanders has agreed to limit the scope of what the Government Accountability Office would be allowed to audit. [...]

"It's my understanding he's working very closely--I've talked to him on the floor--with the Fed to try to get that part right," Corker said.

Moments later, Sanders announced the changes on the Senate floor--and they were sufficient to win Dodd's support.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/05/sanders-fed-audit-amendment-likely-to-prevail.php

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 6, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Another OT:

U.S. Job Creation Best Since November 2008

http://www.gallup.com/poll/127724/Job-Creation-Best-November-2008.aspx

Lots in there, go check it out.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 6, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

"It's simply corporate money versus union money."

No it isn't. It is anonymous corporate money versus identified union money. Big difference.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 6, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Interesting: Chamber of Commerce denies association with Americans for Job Security.

http://blogs.investors.com/capitalhill/index.php/home/35-politicsinvesting/1735-the-paranoid-style-in-kos-politics

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Another difference is the unions are supporting a candidate of their choice, this shadowy group is campaigning against someone without saying even who they support. This is a primary so it makes it even more concerning.

Time for another Halter money bomb.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 6, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

sbj:

All union money comes from member dues. All expenditures are required to be filed with the department of labor.

AJC doesn't have to reveal anything about its funders.

In the case of the unions, we know who they've endorsed, and why they think that candidate's issue positions are in their interests.

We don't know who AJC is pulling for, or why.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 6, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

sbj, if you think corporations support candidates for the same reasons unions do, then you don't know much about this subject.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 6, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I agree with your very astute comments lmsinca. This is definitely disturbing. They're going to try to assure that Blanche wins the primary, then loses the general.

I've been waiting to drop some more cash to Halter. This does it. I'm doing it right now.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 6, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: "We don't know who AJC is pulling for, or why."

And the proposed new Dem restrictions would require one to divulge who they are supporting and why?

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I believe that corporations should have their personhood taken away. Why should corporations have freedom of speech? They are not people. They cannot vote. Yes, people can join together to get their money to be more effective, but EACH person and their share being used should be known.

For all we know, the RNC is this group.

Posted by: free-electron | May 6, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

MoveOn just sent out an appeal for funds for Halter. Now is the time, all who are interested.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 6, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Nice SueKzoo. I just did mine! Encourage anyone who can to throw in for Bill.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 6, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

free-electron, you're a radical. . . but you're also right!

Posted by: Michigoose | May 6, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

O/T

Sister Sarah just defied the Teabaggers (and Jim Demint) by endorsing Carly Fiorina for Senate.

LOL

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/06/carly-fiorina-california_n_566190.html

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 6, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

"And the proposed new Dem restrictions would require one to divulge who they are supporting and why?"

sbj, if the ad clearly states where the funding is coming from then people can at least make an educated decision. This way it appears they are supporting Lincoln by bashing Halter, when in actuality they're just interfering in a Dem primary to give Republicans an advantage in the general. Most people won't know this by seeing the ad. I think you know it though.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 6, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

O/T

Marco Rubio flip/flops on the AZ law. He's now "fine" with it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/06/marco-rubio-florida-senat_n_566075.html

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 6, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

@sbj - as Greg notes, there are significant differences here as to transparency with which voters might use to evaluate motivation and truthfulness. Secondly, there are significant differences in how much money is available to unions versus corporate collectives (as evidenced by the differing size of the two candidates' war chests).

Posted by: bernielatham | May 6, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Holy Cajones!!
-------------------------

In the race for President Obama's old Senate seat, Republican candidate Mark Kirk has spent the past couple weeks hammering Democrat Alexi Giannoulias over the failure of his family's Broadway Bank. On Monday, Ed Marshall of the local CBS affiliate told Kirk it was time to talk about something else.

"Channel 2's made a decision: We're really not going to cover the Senate race if it consistently, only in your terms, is about Broadway Bank," Marshall said. "The bank's been taken over by the government, Alexi's been pilloried. Tell me: what is your campaign going forward? What are the issues that you are going to tell the voters why they should vote for you?"

After taking some heat on talk radio and from Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, the station walked back Marshall's threat, clarifying that they will "continue to report on the Kirk and Giannoulias campaigns all the way to November. And, we will continue to report on any new developments involving the failed Broadway Bank."

"However, CBS 2 will also challenge the candidates to talk about MANY important issues, beyond the failed Broadway Bank, facing citizens of Illinois."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/06/illinois-senate-2010-election-kirk-alexi_n_527501.html

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 6, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Haha. So Sue, who's the "real" teabagger? Palin, DeMint, Rubio... It's all so confusing. This has to be the most schizophrenic political "movement" in history.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 6, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

"This way it appears they are supporting Lincoln by bashing Halter, when in actuality they're just interfering in a Dem primary to give Republicans an advantage in the general."

You know this, now, for a fact? I'm not saying you aren't correct, but I don't know that for a fact and I wouldn't say so if I wasn't sure. I don't think any law should force you to divulge who you support just because you're spending money to defeat the other guy. And I don't think any law should force you to state why you are supporting someone (as Greg implied). I am all for transparency but I'm not sure it would make any difference here at all.

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, best I can do is laff at 'em. They are quite entertaining, eh?

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 6, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

"I am all for transparency but I'm not sure it would make any difference here at all."

Sure it would.

It would force them to say they WANT Lincoln.

They DON'T want Lincoln. They want the Republican to win.

If they wanted Lincoln to win in the first place, they'd say so. Just basic logic.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 6, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

The immortal Corporation was created by the State (of Delaware?) and therefor has no inalienable rights bestowed upon it.

The corporate part of fascism is in place, now they just need a charismatic leader and a religious ideology (Christian Nation) and the New American Fascist Party is born.

All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

Posted by: thebobbob | May 6, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

sbj,

Please note your inconguence, one dang sentence apart.


I don't think any law should force you to divulge who you support just because you're spending money to defeat the other guy.


I am all for transparency

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 6, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

"I don't think any law should force you to divulge who you support just because you're spending money to defeat the other guy. And I don't think any law should force you to state why you are supporting someone (as Greg implied)"

Greg can speak for himself but I don't think anyone is advocating that a donor must EXPLAIN WHY they he is donating money. But EVERYONE should be required to disclose his donations. Especially (in my view) fictional persons like corporations. What's the problem with that kind of transparency?

Posted by: wbgonne | May 6, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Wording effects polling.

Check out this must-read post at dkos on immigration:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/5/6/864197/-We-polled-Arizonas-immigration-law

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 6, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan: "It would force them to say they WANT Lincoln."

Transparency wouldn't force them to say who they wanted, transparency would force them to reveal who is spending the money.

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

suekzoo, I'm from Ill-In-Oy and no one I know here wants 6 more months of Broadway Bank stories.

Rep. Kirk should thank the local CBS station. It did him a favor by reminding him that there are lots of issues that deserve to be addressed and the one-note rant was getting rancid.

Posted by: MsJS | May 6, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

@suzieq: "Please note your inconguence."

Not incongruous to support who is spending money while not supporting revealing the why.

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Keep in mind this is not a donation, those need to be disclosed, this is a well funded smear campaign. It seems to me we should be able to determine who is behind it and why. It's a perversion of democracy pure and simple IMO.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 6, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"Transparency wouldn't force them to say who they wanted, transparency would force them to reveal who is spending the money."

Just let us know exactly who is giving how much money and to whom. We can figure the rest out. Problem solved.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 6, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

And it would appear now that Palin is independently wealthy, she's shedding her Tea Party bonafides for corporatism, pure and simple. Wonder if Carly will go with "drill baby drill" here in CA? LOL

Posted by: lmsinca | May 6, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Jeebus, sbj!

No one is asking for the "why." 99.99% of the time it's self-evident. It's the WHO!

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 6, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

"Not incongruous to support who is spending money while not supporting revealing the why."

You are more intelligent than this. People can spend all the money they want in support of, or opposition to, any candidate. What they can't do is act in secret. That is anti-democratic.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 6, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

So sbj, do you think we should know who is funding this ad campaign against Halter? And if we know who it is do you think we might be able to surmise why?

Posted by: lmsinca | May 6, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

If acting in secret is anti-democratic then I guess we should all stop voting.

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

"I'm all for transparency..."

Yeah, sure you are. NOT.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 6, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

@lms: "Do you think we should know who is funding this ad campaign against Halter?"

Yes, but my point was that this is nothing new - as Greg said. There's nothing particularly special about this effort.

"And if we know who it is do you think we might be able to surmise why?"

Yes you might. In your case you already "know" why, right? Even though you aren't even sure who is funding the effort.

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Well sbj because I use my critical thinking skills after researching what I can find about this group, I am able to make an educated guess about the reason they've entered the fray in this primary. Am I 100% positive, of course not. Would I make a wager on it, you bet.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 6, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

@lms: Do you have reason to believe that this group wouldn't be just as happy with Lincoln as with a Republican? I thought she was rather pro-business.

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/05/happy_hour_roundup_2.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 6, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

@sbj - So, fine with you if elections here are covertly funded by, say, the Saudi royal family? How will you ascertain whether this is the case?

But more than that, you are being inexcusably obtuse regarding how the enormous financial resources of co-ordinating corporations can skew your entire electoral process to their purposes (which are, by legal mandate, enjoined to maximize shareholder profits regardless of whether those shareholders live in Switzerland, Texas, Canada or Iran).

Posted by: bernielatham | May 6, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

"If acting in secret is anti-democratic then I guess we should all stop voting"

Money isn't speech. Spending money isn't voting. Exercising one's franchise privately is designed to protect against outside influence. You are advocating the opposite. You are wrong.

Over & out.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 6, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

bernie,
Thanks for the link about Americans for Job Security. I liked the quote that Public Citizen made in their FEC Complaint regarding AJS as a "sham front group that would be better called Corporations Influencing Elections ... masquerading as a non-profit to conceal its funders and the scope of its electioneering activities,"

Well, with their cartoonishly stereotyped portrayal of Indians, Americans for Job Security has already established their bona fides as intolerant bigots. I think we all knew that it was not a collection of progressives funding this group that, Klan like. feels the need to cloak themselves in anonymity.

How noble and honorable can the people behind Americans for Job Security be if they refuse to publicly associate themselves with the group? Like the cockroaches they are, they scurry from the light and seek out the deepest darkest corners hidden from view.

Justice Brandeis said, “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

A bit more public exposure of the loathsome vermin behind this group might help to lessen their influence.

Truly a bunch of super patriots.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 6, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

@sbj, if they support Lincoln then we can expect them to back her in the general if she wins the primary. Cold day in Hell as they say.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 6, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

@bernie: "Fine with you if elections here are covertly funded by, say, the Saudi royal family? How will you ascertain whether this is the case?"

Certainly not fine with me. How do we currently ascertain whether this is the case? ohnmigosh! - did they get Bill Clinton elected?

"But more than that, you are being inexcusably obtuse."

I BEG bernie's forgiveness!

I think we all realize that money influences the outcomes of elections, bernie. The congress is free to make laws and the Sup Crt free to determine their constitutionality. Speaking as an American, I think it's worked out so far. But the influence of money is perhaps why the GOP is now copying the Dem tactics that have recently been so successful in giving the Dems the financial advantage.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0510/36841.html

Posted by: sbj3 | May 6, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Americans for Job Security, a 501(c)(6) formed by the US Chamber of Commerce. They just reactivated it, is all. http://www.stealthpacs.org/profile.cfm?org_id=41

Posted by: DrumsNWhistles | May 6, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

In California we have a liberal environmental group attacking Richard Pombo without telling who they are. I haven't heard their ads lately. I think they were proven false in court. I know he was going to challenge them in court. He was an elected official a few years ago and lines were redrawn in his district to get rid of him.

Posted by: leeroyt | May 12, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company