Crossroads GPS Cloaks Political Ads to Avoid Disclosure « The Washington Independent
Crossroads GPS is spending a lot of money attacking Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on the airwaves, but they’re using a clever trick to hide their donor lists and keep the ads considered “issue ads,” as opposed to a form of express advocacy. The trick is that while the entirety of the ads attack the candidates quite broadly, the last frame urges the viewer to tell their senator to “vote no on S.Amdt 4594.”
The ads in question don’t make any mention of S.Amdt. 4594, let alone explain it. (It happens to be the small business lending bill that’s due for a vote in the Senate after recess next week). They list it, however, because railing on the stimulus — which is now over a year old and not subject to any upcoming votes in Congress — is a dubious reason to educate the body politic at best. In order to skirt a legal challenge — and maintain the organization’s tax exempt status and secrecy of its donors — Crossroads GPS therefore inserts in the final clause and can safely call the attacks an “issue ad.”
It’s just the latest example of the deficiency of campaign finance regulations and the FEC, which regulate some forms of political advocacy but turn a blind eye to ads that are in all practical respects functionally equivalent.