The election season of 2010 has seen an explosion of independent expenditures for and against congressional candidates, and the donors to the groups that mount these independent expenditures are largely invisible thanks to recent campaign finance deregulation. Tracking and comparing donors between groups is the easiest way to uncover patterns of coordination and possible corruption in campaign funding. But even without lists of contributors we can still look at coordination in the expenditures made by these groups. Today, let’s look at a independent expenditures used to attack congressional candidates. While a number of these groups are mounting attacks on candidates in joint fashion, other political groups are the only ones to lay out an attack on a candidate. You might say they’ve gone lone wolf.
The following groups are going solo, spending money to attack political candidates that no other group has targeted. Their choices of target is interesting because those choices aren’t shared by any others:
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, paying for “survey research” against Rep. John Boozman conducted by Mullen & Company — an odd choice considering that Mullen & Company’s specialty is attack advertisements, not surveys. Any guesses as to what sort of surveys these might have been?
Arizonans Working Together, to run a mail campaign against Jesse Kelly, a conservative Republican candidate for Congress against the moderate Democratic incumbent in Arizona District 8, Gabrielle Giffords.
Arkansans for Common Sense, a group designing and running a series of TV advertisements against Bill Halter in his Democratic Party primary bid against incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln. The same group ran other advertisements praising Senator Lincoln.
Citizens for Economic and National Security, running radio ads against California Democratic congressional candidate Dr. Ami Bera.
Concerned Taxpayers of America, putting together a “media buy” against Democratic Party congressman Frank Kratovil of Maryland’s 1st District. Although no other group made an independent expenditure to attack Frank Kratovil, Concerned Taxpayers of America shows a connection to the Republican Party through the group it contracted to create the attack ads, Jamestown Associates. The company, which describes itself as a “full-service Republican political consulting firm,” establishes relationships exclusively with Republican party candidates and is one of the primary contractors for the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Cornerstone Action paid for an advertisement against Republican Senate candidate Bill Binnie, one that Binnie claimed was made in coordination with Binnie’s primary opponent Kelly Ayotte. Cornerstone told Binnie to “stop whining” about it.
Emily’s List has an extensive list of candidates it supports through independent expenditures. But in the 2009-2010 election season it has only spent to oppose one candidate, Gil Cedillo, a Democratic Party candidate for California’s 32nd district in a special election. Emily’s List instead endorsed the eventual winner Judy Chu for the reason that she is a “pro-choice woman candidate.” After complaining that Cedillo’s campaign was “overly negative,” Emily’s List paid for mailings opposing Cedillo.
Florida New Majority came out against Rudy Moise, a doctor in Florida’s who poured $1.4 million into his failed campaign to gain the Democratic nomination for Kendrick Meek‘s old congressional seat in Florida’s 17th District. Marleine Bastien won the nomination instead after Florida New Majority sent out anti-Moise postcards and hung up anti-Moise posters around the district.
Freedom’s Defense Fund is a group based in the Washington, DC beltway supporting Republican Anna Little in her campaign against Democratic incumbent Frank Pallone in New Jersey’s 6th district race. FDF also paid for a media buy promoting Anna Little on September 20 of this year, indicating an intense interest in the campaign.
The Gun Owners of America paid for postage on a message sent out this spring against incumbent Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah during the Republican primary season.
The group calling itself Louisiana Truth has made eleven expenditures against Democratic congressional candidate Cedric Richmond of Louisiana’s 2nd district.
Our Community Votes put an advertisement on the radio September 29 condemning Colorado congressional candidate Doug Aden of the American Constitution Party for his demands that the government operate in English only. No other group has put attack ads out against Aden, and indeed Aden appears to be spending no money on his own behalf.
The Lincoln Club of Orange County, a Republican Party group, has sent out a mail campaign to voters in California’s 47th District accusing incumbent Loretta Sanchez of an ultra-liberal record, although her record of voting and bill cosponsorship is more tepid than many Democrats’.
We Love USA plastered this puppet-themed billboard regarding congressional incumbent Ron Klein around Florida’s 22nd District:
That’s a lie, of course. Ron Klein can’t possibly have voted with Nancy Pelosi 98% of the time, because in House roll calls to date for this Congress, Nancy Pelosi has failed to cast any vote 94.0% of the time. Pelosi has only cast 94 out of 1557 possible roll call votes, and that’s because the Speaker of the House traditionally abstains from voting unless the margin is close or the vote is of great symbolic importance. In truth, Ron Klein’s voted differently than Nancy Pelosi 94.4% of the time in the 111th Congress.
West Virginians for Life made a whopping 236 independent expenditures against anti-abortion congressmen Alan Mollohan and Nick Rahall in their Democratic party primaries, in favor of Democratic challengers who were even more strongly anti-abortion. Mollohan lost his re-election primary bid; Rahall won his.
Western Representation says it’s a political group organized to advocate for “those who live in the west”, but has been spending its money this fall to send out e-mail blasts against Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank.