Big Texas Green Flowing into Badger State Campaigns
Thursday, October 28, 2010
MADISON, Wis. - Unlike water, campaign dollars can flow from the Gulf of Mexico up to Wisconsin, just like the several million dollars that have flowed from one wealthy Texas real estate magnate into ads taking aim at Russ Feingold and other Democrats nationwide. His name is Bob Perry and he was a driving force behind the 2004 "swift boat" campaign against 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 Feingold's opponent, Ron Johnson.
Jesse Zwick of the Washington Independent has covered Perry's political activism.
"Seven million dollars 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."
He says ad spending can go even further in states with smaller populations like Wisconsin. He adds 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.
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."
Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, says the spending in Wisconsin on this election has been obscene.
"The spending levels in the U.S. Senate race, in some U.S. House races, state legislative campaigns and the governor's election in Wisconsin, all of those races are just off the charts."
McCabe says in many cases they are seeing a five-fold increase in spending, which he called astonishing. He added the money is coming from just one percent of the population.
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