An intriguing coincidence: On the same day the pro-Republican nonprofit Crossroads GPS detailed where it will air $8-million-worth of new ads hammering President Barack Obama, congressional Democrats launched their latest effort to force such groups to reveal their donors.
We won’t know until November’s election the bottom-line impact of the massive spending by Crossroads and similar organizations — unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in early 2010. It’s a sure bet, though, the the Democratic disclosure push is doomed to failure.
The buy announced today by Crossroads, created with the help of Republican political gurus Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, is part of an overall $25 million anti-Obama ad campaign the group earlier pledged to finance. The current segment starts today on TV screens in the swing states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.
“The economy’s slowing, but our debt keeps growing,’” the ad declares. Unsaid is that much of the red ink is directly attributed to the policies of Rove’s and Gillespie’s former boss, President George W. Bush, who inherited a surplus and then cut taxes, enacted a Medicare prescription drug program, and fought two wars without increasing government revenue sources to pay for the conflicts (as had been past practice).
Of course, one doesn’t look for historical perspective in 30-second hit pieces.
As the donors to Crossroads GPS remain hidden from view, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada today brought up legislation to require such disclosure, with a vote scheduled for Monday. And Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said House Democrats would begin efforts to force the House Republican majority to bring such legislation to the floor.
“Voters have a right to know who is trying to influence their vote, and we owe it to them, and to the health of our democracy, to shine a light on the unprecedented money being spent by shadowy interests,” Van Hollen said in a statement making good use of adjectives.
Senate Republicans have blocked past efforts to require nonprofit groups, most of which are supporting their party’s candidates, to disclose their donors. And with the Democratic caucus these days numbering 53, there’s no reason to expect Reid can get the 60 votes he needs to bring the latest bill to the floor. Nor is there any realistic scenario for Van Hollen to obtain the petition signatures he needs to bypass House Republican leaders for a vote on his legislation.