A new report by People For the American Way profiles the work of nine organizations that are funneling money, in many cases from undisclosed donors, to help elect pro-corporate candidates in the 2010 elections. Many of the groups originated in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Others were already established, but have been thriving in a system that allows them to take unlimited corporate money without disclosing their donors.
“Citizens United gave corporations the opportunity to spend millions of dollars to elect candidates who will prioritize corporate interests over the needs of ordinary citizens,” said Michael B. Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “And because of Congress’ failure to pass the DISCLOSE Act, they can spend this money without telling voters where it’s coming from. We don’t know who’s funding these groups, but we can expose the candidates and issues they’re spending millions of dollars to advance. The activities of these groups illustrate the urgent need for a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United and return the power to influence elections to where it belongs—in the hands of voters.”
The groups profiled in the report include:
60 Plus Association: A group with longstanding ties to PhRMA, 60 Plus is spending millions of dollars this election cycle to run ads against Democratic House candidates featuring erroneous claims about Medicare “cuts.”
American Action Network & American Action Forum: Norm Coleman explicitly pointed to the Citizens United decision as a reason for the American Action Network’s ability to emerge this election year, saying that it “greatly enhanced” the group’s fundraising. The group is launching attack ads in key U.S. Senate races.
American Crossroads & Crossroads GPS: The Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads plans on raising $52 million before election day to defeat vulnerable Democrats. Many of its attack ads feature false claims about health care reform.
American Future Fund: The group behind the infamous ad smearing Iowa Rep. Bill Braley for his refusal to oppose the Park51 Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero, American Future Fund is running ads in 14 house districts, knocking candidates’ support for Nancy Pelosi, and hurling debunked and misleading attacks against the Stimulus Plan, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and Health Care Reform’s impact on Medicare.
Americans For Job Security: Utilizing hefty and anonymous corporate donations to run a misleading and deceptive ad campaign, Americans for Job Security is almost the epitome of pro-corporate astroturfing. Founded in 1997, it initially received two $1 million contributions from the American Insurance Association and the American Forest and Paper Association. Proud of its support from corporate backers, the group hailed the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United as an “unequivocal victory.”
Americans for New Leadership & Liberty.com: The Tea Party group that had worked for Christine O’Donnell’s successful Senate campaign is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads against Harry Reid in Nevada, with misleading representations about the Stimulus Plan, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and Health Care Reform’s impact on Medicare. This was also the organization that sponsored an infamous online video which said that O’Donnell’s primary opponent Mike Castle had a male lover.
Americans for Prosperity & Americans for Prosperity Foundation: Chaired by David Koch, well-known funder of the Tea Party movement, Americans for Prosperity also has ties to Religious Right leader Ralph Reed and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The group has been a driving force behind the Tea Party movement, and most recently was caught conspiring to set up a voter caging operation in Wisconsin. The group intends to spend $45 million on fifty House races and half a dozen Senate races.
Club for Growth & Club for Grown Action: Club for Growth has has frequently engaged in competitive Republican primaries by attacking the candidates it deems depart from conservative economic orthodoxy. It recently launched a $1.5 million ad campaign to benefit right-wing Tea Party candidates and aims to spend $24 million on this year’s election. Following the Citizens United ruling, Club for Growth set up Club for Growth Action, an independent expenditure committee which accepts “unlimited individual and corporate contributions.”
US Chamber of Commerce: Long before Citizens United, the Chamber was already established as the principal agent in raising and disseminating corporate money. It plans to spend $75 million in this year’s elections, and has already spent money to plug pro-corporate candidates in ten states.
Read the full report online at: http://www.pfaw.org/media-center/publications/after-citizens-united-look-into-the-pro-corporate-players-american-politic