First on CNN: New PAC launches ads to limit flood of outside spending
July 30th, 2014
10:32 PM ET
3 months ago

First on CNN: New PAC launches ads to limit flood of outside spending

(CNN) - A new group that advocates full disclosure of campaign spending says it's going up Thursday with newspaper ads calling on both the Democratic and Republican candidates in three key congressional races to reject spending by outside groups.

CounterPAC, which is backed by around a half-dozen tech entrepreneurs, says the ads are the first step in what the group says is its national campaign pushing candidates to pledge to reject what it calls "dark" money expenditures by outside groups during this year's midterm elections.

An ad being placed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution will focus on the two nominees in Georgia's Senate contest: Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue. An ad in the Anchorage Daily News focuses on Democratic Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska and Dan Sullivan, considered the favorite to win the GOP nomination. And an ad in the Charleston Gazette focuses on the two candidates in the high profile race for West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District: Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall and Republican nominee Evan Jenkins.

"The CounterPAC pledge is about restoring accountability for voters and agreeing to elections that aren't manipulated by a flood of secret money," said Jim Greer who is co-founder of CounterPAC and a co-founder and former CEO of Kongregate, an online gaming site. "Unlike campaign finance regulations, there's nothing complicated or counter-intuitive about the pledge. Many candidates agree – now it's time for them to put the dark money where their mouth is."

The group says it will act as the arbiter and enforcer of the pledge after candidates have agreed to the terms, which include rejecting expenditures from undisclosed sources. CounterPAC promises to donate 50% of the cost of the rejected expenditure to a charity of the opposing candidate's choice. The group points to a much publicized pledge in 2012 by then-Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren to keep outside money out of their race.

The 2010 Supreme Court "Citizens United" ruling – which removed legal barriers preventing corporations and unions from spending unlimited sums on federal elections – opened the floodgates. It contributed to an explosion in outside spending on the campaign trail by super PACs and by non-profit groups – mainly the IRS designated 501(c)(4) organizations – which don't have to disclose their donors. In a bunch of high profile primary races this year, spending by outside groups dwarfed spending by the actual campaigns.

When it comes to outside spending, there's a partisan gap. Overall, pro-GOP outside groups have heavily outspent their pro-Democratic rivals in the 2010, 2012, and 2014 cycles.

In addition to Greer, CounterPAC is supported by: Matt Cutts, the head of the Webspam team at Google; Ethan Beard, an entrepreneur-in-residence at Greylock Partners; Ted Wang, a Silicon Valley lawyer and Partner at Fenwick & West; Roy Bahat, head of Bloomberg Beta, a new venture fund backed by Bloomberg L.P.; Todd DiPaola, Co-Founder of InMarket; and Ron Carmel, Co-Founder of 2dBoy and IndieFund.

The group's push comes as Senate Democrats back a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit campaign spending by outside groups. The measure passed through committee hurdles, but its chances of passing the full Senate, where it needs a two-thirds majority, are extremely slim, due to broad GOP opposition.

 


Filed under: 2014 • Campaign finance
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Name

    Repubs Will never sign that pledge they are getting too much money from China and India to outsource American jobs to their countries by not taxing their big corporate donors when they do so

    July 30, 2014 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  2. Former republican, now an independent

    It's an absolute shame that citizens have to form a PAC to try to right the wrong of a republican led Supreme Court. The GOP as a whole sees nothing wrong with foreign governments having the ability to hide the money they secretly contribute to republican candidates.

    July 30, 2014 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  3. Thomas

    Trying to expose "dark" money is like asking "Dick" Cheney to admit to climate change . He will only change the subject .

    Citizens United We Stand , More campaign spending means more American jobs .

    July 31, 2014 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  4. old age voter

    Funny how these ads are targeted where Democratic candidates will most likely / are going to lose in the midterm elections.

    If you limit outside spending; Democratic candidates and president Obama would never be able to get elected. The president didn't collect a billion dollars plus from voters in the United States.

    July 31, 2014 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  5. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Don't hold your breath thinking for one minute that anyone is going to go for this. Here in MI outside spending had spent over $14,000,000 on our Governors race alone. And that was almost 2 weeks ago. That's more than both candidates themselves have raised.

    July 31, 2014 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  6. an Iowan

    Good Luck with that!
    As a voter I would love to have elections fall back on votes instead of dirty money controlling them!
    I am also sick and tired of outside interests placing these ads, trying to sway voters with untruths, quotes taken out of context, and just plain lies!
    However, I would like to think that most voters do their own research and do not pay heed to those ads, but unfortunately too many Americans believe everything they see on the boob tube! These super PACS care not for the states and the people of those states where they place these ads. GET REAL! does anyone in Iowa actually think Karl Rove cares about Iowa? If you do, I have some prime swampland, I mean real estate, to sell you!

    July 31, 2014 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    They are wasting their time and money by calling on the candidates to reject spending by outside groups. The law prohibits them from contacting or coordinating with those types of groups. Besides, current interpretation of the law says that the groups can exercise their freedom of speech to spend as much as they so desire.

    Their time would be better spent lobbying members of Congress to change the laws, but we know conservatives would never go for that because they cannot drum up nowhere near as many small donations as liberals can.

    July 31, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  8. Klutch Cargo

    As long as the Federal government is in the business (Unconstitutional) of collecting and disbursing money for Social Programs the people have a right to speak about it. Return the Social Spending Programs back to the States where the people in each state decide what and where money is collected, spent and we will have no need for Political Ads.

    July 31, 2014 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    That will accomplish nothing. The Dems blame the GOP, then turn around and spend far more to win, than the GOP does.

    There is no group more dishonest, fraudulent, and lying, then the Democratic Party.

    July 31, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  10. Malory Archer

    Rick McDaniel
    That will accomplish nothing. The Dems blame the GOP, then turn around and spend far more to win, than the GOP does.

    There is no group more dishonest, fraudulent, and lying, then the Democratic Party.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except this group is talking about "dark" money, the vast majority of which benefits red candidates.

    July 31, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  11. adamjread

    When we live in a world whose definition of success involves making as much money as possible, we put our own safety and health at risk in exchange for looking temporarily successful. We then elect these apparently successful people to offices that give them control over the important decisions that are made about our lives.

    So, before we look to see who has the largest war chest to win the next election, perhaps it would be wise to look at the gears that turn this particular machine:

    Lots of money can easily be made by telling us what we want to hear or distracting us for a little while longer.
    Much less money can be made by telling us what we need to hear and starting conversations few are willing to start.

    If you want to have a society that is grounded and sustainable rather than flashy and distracting, perhaps it would be good to start looking for people to elect that have a different version of success than those that have simply amassed great wealth telling people what they want to hear.

    If you want to go even further to find good leaders, then you will need to look for ones that listen very well...and do not just speak every time someone shows up with a microphone. After all, the most endearing trait of a leader is the ability to inspire trust and creativity in the public by knowing when...and how...to follow.

    It is simply impossible for one person to have all the answers. It is possible, however, to ignite a timeless passion for life by enabling people's own creativity and trusting them enough to save their own little corner of the world. Someone simply needs to believe in the Nobodies of the world because the Nobodies...not the Somebodies....are the ones that truly hold this world together.

    July 31, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    "It is simply impossible for one person to have all the answers. It is possible, however, to ignite a timeless passion for life by enabling people's own creativity and trusting them enough to save their own little corner of the world. Someone simply needs to believe in the Nobodies of the world because the Nobodies...not the Somebodies....are the ones that truly hold this world together."
    ---------------–
    I must admire your ideals. However, you are in need of a small reality check. Your "Nobodies", the "have nots", do have the power to control the world. But, your "Somebodies", the "haves", have made an unprecedented power grab over the last 30 years. Their hands grow bigger by the decade, and they're taking more and more power away from your "Nobodies"

    I'm talking about our democracy has been anonymously usurped into an plutocracy. A recent study out of Britain has reported that American democracy has finally died with unlimited amounts of money fueling our politics.

    July 31, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  13. smith

    "Dark Money", thats a laugh. We all know the money comes from special interest groups and both sides are on the take. Get rid political commercials on tv, radio and the internet and the money will stop flowing in.

    July 31, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |