Big Texas Green Flowing into Silver State Campaign
LAS VEGAS - Unlike water, campaign dollars can flow from the Gulf of Mexico up to Nevada, as witness the several million dollars that have flowed from one wealthy Texas real estate magnate into ads taking aim at Nevada Senator Harry Reid and other Democrats nationwide. His name is Bob Perry and he was a driving force behind the 2004 Swift Boat campaign against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. This year, thanks to the Supreme Court decision that opened the door to nearly unlimited campaign contributions, he's given several million dollars to Karl Rove's political organizations and other groups supporting Reid's opponent, Sharron Angle.
Jesse Zwick of the Washington Independent has covered Perry's political activism.
"$7 million can definitely go a long way putting up ads in a state: that would almost be, you know, the advertising budget of a really strong seven-week campaign in a state."
Zwick says the groups behind much of this season's campaign advertising usually present themselves as representing a broad-based group of voters, but often that's not the case.
"A donation from someone like Mr. Perry shows that a lot of groups can advocate that kind of support while in fact actually receiving its support from a very relatively small number of donors."
He says ad spending can go even further in states with smaller populations, like Nevada. He also notes that while the Swift Boat group was cited by the Federal Election Commission for not properly registering and collecting donations, the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision means that big smear campaigns largely funded by a few individuals or corporations are now totally legitimate.