Anonymous Billionaires are Stealing Your Election with Attack Ads

It would be bad enough, as I reported last week, that 47 billionaires were responsible for the lion’s share of individual Super PAC contributions. It turns out that the Super PACs aren’t even the biggest players.

The biggest players are the dark money PACs, which do not have to reveal the sources of their funding.

If we just look at the television ads bankrolled by the top six sources of funding, we make a startling discovery, which Kim Barker reported on in these pages last week.

The ‘dark money’ PACs are outspending everyone else. Crossroads GPS, founded by Karl Rove and backed by anonymous big-money donors, has bought negative attack ads against President Obama to the tune of $52 million! The Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity spent $20.6 million. The political parties and the Super PACs, which have to identify the source of their funds, are making a much smaller contribution.

Moreover if you look at the WaPo infographic under ‘who’s going negative,’ you find that 100% of the ads paid for by $52 million from Crossroads GPS are negative! Likewise all $20.5 million spent by the Koch Brothers-founded Americans for Prosperity went to attack ads. In contrast, about half of the ads paid for by Barack Obama were negative.

The Dark Money PACs are not only continuing to spend like a drunken sailor, they are making it up as they go along, solely funding negative images and falsehoods.

It shouldn’t be allowed in the United States of America for a handful of billionaires to buy the election.

It certainly shouldn’t be allowed for them to do so anonymously.

Posted in Uncategorized | 26 Responses | Print |

26 Responses

  1. Just a reaction Juan: I would say that as wrong as it is it would not make any difference. If pay attention just a bit to CNN, MSNBC, FOX and CNBC they devote MOST of their time to discussing the candidates and the election. The discussion is the same baloney over and over… and I don’t think anyone is listening judging by the ratings.

    The candidates themselves are totally avoiding any serious issues. If they had 15% of the money they would be using it exactly the same way. Nir Rosen has an excellent article in Newsweek that well explains why no one will be excited about Obama. Romney is the perfect Republican candidate and this year he could fill in as the perfect Democrat if that was what was needed. Keep informing us!

    • Re anyone listening (to the TV news). I record the News Hour. For at the past 2 months I fast forward through at least half of it. I absolutely refuse to listen to all the political c… with talking heads analyzing the latest baloney.

      • That’s my point Sheila. This is another election about nothing. The tv coverage shows that and the billions of dollars more spent this time are just a reflexion of how much richer they have become thru buying the process.

        There is really such a thing as a slippery slope though and as Greece, Spain and Italy illustrate… beyond a certain point it just all falls down. Then change will begin.

  2. Any nation that chooses its leader based on TV commercials deserves pretty much deserves whatever it gets, so in that sense, the system works.

    • Well stated. No how much money is spent on this election, and by whom, the American voter just NEEDS TO VOTE. In the final analysis, those billionaires only have a singular vote, too. So, get out there and vote.

      And, for those in those states that are making it difficult for people to vote, just find out what the requirements are (=the correct form of ID so legislated) and show up at the polls, and vote. Simple.

    • Oh dear, Niall Ferguson, one of Britain’s most successful exports to the USA. The man who believes the first world war was all Britain’s fault. (Check out Pankaj Mishra’s demolition job on him in the London Review of Books link to

      Please keep him employed at Harvard and only let him back over this side of the Pond to attend weddings and funerals.

  3. In the past months I have diaried quite extensively over Adelson – Koch – Wynn and the tens of millions being wastefully invested in the Republican political campaign. Doing some search WhoIs behind the ‘Swift Boat ‘ attack ad, there is a link with an IP address This is favorite for quite some right-wing funded websites linked to the billionaires. Yesterday while reading a nice article about “My Amsterdam” in the Jerusalem Post a reader from California wrote a comment with negative connotation linking “The Third Jihad”. Indeed another propaganda site registered to Clarion Fund Inc. with backing from Adelson or Koch [RightWeb].

  4. “It shouldn’t be allowed in the United States of America for a handful of billionaires to buy the election.”

    Okay. I’ve read you repeated complaints about the elections and the candidates for many months. Are you or any of your commenters taking any actions, or just continuing the complaints?

    I’ve made suggestions, but have received no comments or suggestions. I don’t have the intelligence nor ability to do much of anything. Too old and poor.

    Somehow, get the Occupy movements to start endorsing candidates with honesty, real intelligence, wisdom and other attributes for the Presidency and other positions in all elections, federal to the local.

    The Democratic and Republican parties are corrupted beyond belief. Money is ruling and killing America.
    doing about it Billionaires have been controlling the mass news media, Congress, the FDA, the financial industry and other large corporations/industries including those of food, health care, education, pharmaceuticals, ect for decades.

    How can Americans vote intelligently if they’re given crap, lies, spin in most of the news. Over 50% of Americans do not blog and end up voting based on information from the mass news media.

  5. Dear Professor Cole

    “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.

    Every nation gets the government it deserves.”

    Joseph-Marie, comte de Maistre (1 April 1753 – 26 February 1821)

    • So the Revolution missed him? On sovereign power from the Deity, infallability of the Pope and then such a quote after the decade of the guillotine. An interesting article Joseph de Maistre: An Unusual Reactionary. “Physical evil exists only because there has been, and there is, moral evil. All wrong must he expiated. So humanity which has always believed in the necessity of this expiation, has had recourse, to accomplish it, not only to prayer, but to sacrifice, that is, the shedding of blood, the merits of the innocent being applied to the guilty – a law as mysterious as it is indubitable, and which, in the opinion of the author, explains the existence and the perpetuity of war.” A new age of revolution with mob justice of the guillotine and martyrdom under authority of the evangelical church … sounds like right-wing militancy.

  6. The chart looks consistent with reports that Obama is being outspent 3 to 1 on TV ads in the swing states. The future of our democracy depends on the outcome; if Romney loses, the billionaires may shy away from even trying again. But its a coin toss.

  7. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO tired of the negatives in this election. I have stated Romney is not a person that I would want for your President and his running mate is just an identical twin to him (that is how they pick their mates). I am afraid that if Romney is elected the USA will have to fear what will happen to them – tax cuts and they will make more money, job losses, the list goes on and on. Citizens read and read what these to are doing to your Country and don’t get caught up in all of the hype……

  8. Can someone explain to me how these forms of PACs are not money laundering? If you don’t have to disclose where the money came from, what’s to stop ‘real crimminals’ from opening PACs and then donating the money to themselves or shell companies?

    • What’s more, this is allowing foreign money in, isn’t it? Making for foreign influence in our elections?

      We need attack ads to educate about these dark PACs. Attack ads should attack the worst attack ads. People should learn to pay attention to who says what, IMO.

  9. […] Anonymous Billionaires are Stealing Your Election with Attack Ads | Informed Comment "The ‘dark money’ PACs are outspending everyone else. Crossroads GPS, founded by Karl Rove and backed by anonymous big-money donors, has bought negative attack ads against President Obama to the tune of $52 million! The Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity spent $20.6 million. The political parties and the Super PACs, which have to identify the source of their funds, are making a much smaller contribution." […]

  10. How about a novel, old-fashioned approach to politics? Knock doors in your neighborhood, pitch your plea for your peers to attend meetings, read, vote, write and call? I’m doing my little part in my corner of the world and it’s gratifying to see how much disturbance one little old lady can have in a system that hopes we’re on all overdrive. It’s important to listen as well as talk, have empathy and respect for opposing views, and READ broadly. Our citizen powers are not yet gone but they are headed that direction and if we don’t get involved before November, the Adelsons and Kochs will have snatched our republic from us.

  11. America has become a bad joke. Trouble is there is no way of stopping this slide into dressed up barbarity. It’s like something out of 14th century Europe when total corruption kept rulers in power. The fact this is modern day America, ‘land of the free’ makes it an extremely dangerous bad joke.

  12. It doesn’t matter, there’s no fixing this, and for a slightly different viewpoint on why we ordinary people are screwed, and the kinds of people who are doing it to us, you folks who are worried about little bits of Great Game policy might enjoy the real nature of how our kleptocracy is backing it into us. Got Debt? Got any idea how you “acquired” it?

    link to

  13. The problem is not that rich people are “stealing” the election. The problem is that Americans leave themselves vulnerable to such manipulation through their collective ignorance and gullibility.

  14. You know I find attack ads completely unpersuasive. And everybody I know claim likewise. So, the question is whose vote is changed by these ads. As I understand it the chief purpose of attack ads is to demoralize voters and keep them away from the polls.

    If that is the case then the solution is to require compulsory attendance at the polls by every citizen. This would remove the rational for attack ads and a lot of the money that is spent by these various unknown players. Of course, in order to implement a measure like this we would have to improve the current voting process (something that should be done anyway).

  15. The Supreme Court in “Citizens United” unchained the oligarchs and shackled the citizenry.* Only a new and wiser Supreme Court or a constitutional ammendment can correct this developement.

    *No, this is not a racist comment.

  16. Adelson Just Bought a Seat in 9th District New Jersey

    Sheldon Adelson donates to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

    (Matzav) – Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson have donated $500,000 to a SuperPAC supporting the campaign of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Rabbi Boteach is running for Congress as a Republican in New Jersey’s 9th Congressional district. Author of “Kosher Sex” and host of the television show “Shalom in the Home,” Rabbi Shmuley Boteach made Newsweek’s list of the 50 most influential rabbis in the U.S.

    Open Secrets: Spending by SuperPACs and the Adelsons leading the pack by far

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