- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Middle Eastern firm’s deal to manage U.S. cargo port raises security concerns
- Bob McDonnell’s defense: Lonely wife developed ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House Republicans unveil bill to speed deportations of border children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
Liberal dollars make big bang in little races
Question of the Day
Liberal and environmental groups that have been dramatically outspent in the 2012 election cycle are nevertheless wielding outsized influence by focusing their campaign cash on down-ballot races that typically see comparatively low levels of spending.
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is one such group, quietly emerging as a major player in big-money politics even though many of its signature issues such as global warming have attracted little attention on the campaign trail. The League has spent $7.5 million on advocacy ads this year, enough to rank alongside liberals’ traditional money base of unions and abortion activists.
In fact, in House races, the highest-spending independent group since July has been not Americans for Prosperity or the other conservative groups that have dominated the headlines, but the House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC funded by unions, New York lawyers and Hollywood celebrities, at $12 million. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce comes in a distant second at $8 million.
LCV officials say their activism is a backlash against a Republican-controlled House that has seen an infusion of tea party lawmakers, some of whom contest the science behind climate change.
“This is the most anti-environmental House in history,” LCV Vice President Mike Palamuso said.
The group has targeted five representatives with what it calls “extreme anti-science positions,” such as Rep. Dan Benishek, Michigan Republican, who has said that climate change is “all baloney.” LCV has spent $600,000 attacking Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, Texas Republican, a member of what it is dubbing the “Flat Earth Five.”
“The House is tough because there are so many races,” but it is also easier to have an impact in one than in a Senate race, “so we’re putting our marker down on trying to beat five House incumbents,” Mr. Palamuso said.
LCV is going up against conservative nonprofits that have dominated the election cycle without revealing their donors under newly relaxed campaign finance regulations.
Like the Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity and other nonprofits, LCV does not disclose its donors, but it has historically not accepted money directly from unions or corporations. Records show it has received funding from foundations such as the Sea Change Foundation and Green Change.
SUB Small races, big impact
The new regulations have allowed corporate-backed nonprofits to heavily outspend liberal groups, with nonprofits spending $60 million opposing President Obama, and only $2 million, from pro-choice groups, opposing GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
By that metric, expenditures at the scale of the Texas House race are a drop in an ocean. But unlike the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by the two presidential campaigns, Mr. Canseco and his opponent, Democrat Pete Gallego, each raised only a half-million dollars last quarter.
The $1.1 million that outside groups spent on ads in the race during that time was enough to alter the race’s balance of power, and the LCV money gave Mr. Gallego an advantage that was equal to his opponent’s entire haul in this district, which spans two time zones and four media markets.
Democratic House candidates are not the only ones benefiting from targeted outside spending.
In New Hampshire, one conservative nonprofit alone, the American Action Network, spent more than the Democratic candidate, former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, raised last quarter to advocate the Democrat’s defeat.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Md. couple indicted in scheme to cheat SBA on minority contracts
- As federal agencies trim fat, contracts feed billions in profits to 59 companies
- Conflict of interest in $4 billion government minority program
- $4 billion program for disadvantaged businesses lacks oversight
- Maryland's minority-contracting program gets failing grade on 'graduation'
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Inside the Beltway: Immigration rage festers on all sides
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- Hillary Clinton: I was indeed 'dead broke,' but shouldn't have said so
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world