THE PLANK OCTOBER 22, 2008
Here's a transparently shameless approach to skirting campaign-finance law.
This slick spot by the American Future Fund is simply an attack ad that slams Colorado's Mark Udall on education--until right at the end, when it tells voters that Udall should support an arcane Senate bill that has stalled in committee. (Most of the bill's provisions were rendered moot by the bailout package.) Since 501(c)4 groups are only allowed to act as issue advocates, the final second serves as a highly implausible fig leaf. As NPR's Secret Money Project explains:
The bill's only education provision is an "enhanced charitable deducation for corporate contributions of computer equipment for educational purposes." ... perhaps most important, Udall is a member of the House of Representatives, not the Senate. He wouldn't be able to vote for S. 12 unless he gets elected, an ambition the American Future Fund hopes to thwart.
Why not just tack an ad for Wendy's at the end and insist this is unregulated speech?
Chris Cillizza has called this group "the most likely conduit for soft-money donations to be spent on some of the most hotly contested Senate races this fall." It's staffed by a number of premium GOP operatives, including Mitt Romney's Iowa specialists and George W. Bush's personal pollster. And there's evidence that the organization was originally put together by Karl Rove himself.