Questionable challenges to recall petitions for Wisconsin State Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) bear a resemblance to a "voter caging" scheme led by Tea Party groups in the 2010 elections.
MADISON--The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has filed a brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court defending proposed disclosure rules passed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, rules that are being challenged by the Koch-funded group, Americans for Prosperity. In the brief, CMD also questions whether rights granted by Wisconsin's Constitution can be legitimately extended to corporations.
Throughout the course of the 2010 Congressional midterm campaigns, candidates threw out countless fibs, questionable assertions, whoppers and half-truths. These are our candidates for the most misleading campaign ads of 2010, what are yours?
Big Lie #1: Health Care Reform Guts Medicare
In a nationally coordinated effort, Republicans and pro-Republican groups attacked Democrats for supporting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), making misleading allegations that the health care reform bill will lead to cuts in Medicare benefits. Many of the ads came from "outside interest groups" like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, the 60 Plus Association and Americans For Prosperity, who ran nearly identical ads across the country. Attacks also came from "official" Republican groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund and the National Republican Congressional Committee, as well as candidates themselves.
The progressive advocacy group One Wisconsin Now has uncovered a plan by the Wisconsin Republican Party, Americans for Prosperity, and local Tea Party groups to engage in what One Wisconsin Now is calling a “voter suppression” scheme. The GOP and Tea Party groups have denied the existence of such a plan, instead claiming that their efforts are aimed at preventing alleged "voter fraud."
The voter-suppression charge arises from right-wing groups training “election observers” to challenge people they somehow suspect of voting fraudulently in Wisconsin’s elections. Americans for Prosperity is paying for a series of mailings targeted at communities of color, to assemble a list of “ineligible” voters that Tea Party election observers will challenge at the polls. Such challenges are not only intimidating and intrusive, but contribute to long lines at polling stations, further discouraging voters.
The Center for Media and Democracy continues its series exposing the right-wing political operatives, billionaires, and corporate executives behind the American Action Network (AAN), the group running grossly misleading ads attacking Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold. This week, we highlight AAN board member and CREEP-er, Fred Malek.
A variety of media outlets are reporting that the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal, Employees (AFSCME) is spending $87.5 million on election activities in 2010, making it the “big dog” in spending for the campaign season. The Center for Media and Democracy is a nonpartisan organization, and encourages voters to be skeptical about campaign messages from outside groups regardless of whether they are supporting Democrats or Republicans. However, we feel it necessary to point out that AFSCME’s spending does not equalize the playing field.
First, although AFSCME may be the single biggest spender, the “big dog” title is a little disingenuous, as the corporate-funded interest groups supposedly outspent by the union are numerous and coordinated. Karl Rove’s organization, American Crossroads, is spending $65 million, and it shares office space and harmonizes its activities with American Action Network, which is spending $25 million.
By Lisa Graves and Brendan Fischer
An activist group called SpeechNow.Org is running ads against Senator Russ Feingold. It blames him for the deficit and claims that clean election laws he spearheaded are “attacking free speech.” But who’s really behind SpeechNow’s folksy, cartoon attack ads?
The Money Bags: One funder is multi-millionaire Fred Young, the heir of the Young Radiator fortune in Racine. He sold his Wisconsin company for over $70 million in 1998 to a group that quickly merged with Wabtec Corporation, a multinational with a history of outsourcing jobs to make goods in China and elsewhere. But even before Young sold the company, he worked to ship well-paying Wisconsin jobs out of state. Back in 1991, Young Radiator closed its Racine plant and fired 120 Wisconsin workers in order to boost his profits by outsourcing work to Iowa and Tennessee plants that did not give union-negotiated benefits. Young donated over $100,000 last month to fund attacks against Feingold, constituting the bulk of the funding. With millions in profits from helping to sell out Wisconsin’s industrial base and time on his hands, Young has become involved in Washington, D.C.-based groups, like SpeechNow.
Doesn't it seem like there are more negative political campaign ads than ever before?
It's difficult to watch almost any TV without being bombarded with repetitive ads "paid for" by some group that claims to be just like you, or like someone you want to be, like "Americans for Prosperity" and its so-called "Prosperity Network." But you can help fight back.
With most everyone else tightening their belts as the economy staggers back from the meltdown caused by Wall Street gambling, who can afford to blanket our airwaves with scary "independent" political ads? Wall Street. But these fat cats are trying to hide their role in this obscene wave of mid-term election spending by funneling their profits through front groups. Together we can shine a light on their efforts to take control of our democracy.
It is well-known that the U.S. Supreme Court's democracy-corrupting Citizens United decision is largely responsible for the hundreds of millions of corporate dollars flooding this season's election cycle. But many do not know that one man is particularly responsible for Citizens United and other challenges to fair election rules, and that his ironically-named "Committee for Truth in Politics" is one of the many groups fronting corporate dollars while pretending to be just like ordinary folk.
This first post-Citizens United campaign season has, unfortunately, vindicated fears about the Court decision's impact. As expected, at least hundreds of millions of corporate dollars have been spent in the past months trying to buy our votes, with most of this money being funneled through outside special interest groups with innocent-sounding names like "American Action Network" or "American Crossroads." Outside special interest group spending is five times greater in 2010 than in the last midterm election, and as expected, most of these funds are helping Republicans who generally oppose regulating their corporate benefactors.
The latest demonstration of the impact that Citizens United is having on this election season is a $50 million corporate-funded ad blitz to support Republican House congressional candidates. While some Republican leaders are finally acknowledging the role of anonymous corporate money in buying influence, the ads funded by those dollars remain misleading.