PORT ANGELES, Wash. - Shadowy corporate political action committees are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the Nov. 2 midterm elections, much of it for attack ads aimed at incumbent Democratic candidates in 50 key races across the nation.
MoveOn Political Action charged Wednesday that the motive is to "buy" majority Republican control of the U.S. House and Senate.
During a combined news conference and picket line outside the local offices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here, MoveOn members carried signs that read, "Corporations are not ‘We the people'," "U.S. Chamber of Commerce Exports Jobs" and "Stop Corporate Unionbusting." Many carried signs that said simply, "Re-Elect Patty Murray, U.S. Senator."
MoveOn leaders accused the secret network of flooding Washington State with anonymous corporate cash to buy TV ads smearing incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. Her Republican challenger, Dino Rossi, reportedly received more than $300,000 from the Chamber of Commerce.
The Republican strategy may be backfiring. A new poll featured in the Oct. 14 Seattle Times showed Patty Murray with a 13-point lead over Rossi, 51 percent to 38 percent. Murray supporters crowded the main downtown corner in nearby Sequim Oct. 13 holding up dozens of placards calling for her re-election. A steady stream of motorists honked their horns, waved and gave thumbs-up salutes.
Released at the MoveOn Political Action news conference was a seven-page report, "Buying Democracy: The Impact of Corporate and Rightwing Front Groups on Elections in Washington."
MoveOn member Sam Wood read excerpts from the exposé charging that the corporate network plans to spend as much as $400 million in key races to help the Republicans seize control of the House and Senate. The orgy of corporate money comes from oil corporations, Wall Street banks, pharmaceuticals and other corporations, many of them foreign owned. "Who do you think Dino Rossi is going to represent if elected? This money has no place in our political process," Wood said.
Small business owner Larry Hall said he has been in business for 30 years and "in that period of time, I've never had any help from the Republican Party." He accused the GOP of "blatant and open" illegal funding of right-wing candidates with the aim of buying elections.
The MoveOn report warns, "Voters will never know who is behind the onslaught of ads airing across the country. From Wall Street to foreign oil companies, corporations everywhere are now able to flood the airwaves with ads and avoid any accountability for their attempt to buy our elections."
Right-wing front groups have already spent $34.5 million on TV ads backing Republican Senate candidates. The Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS plan to spend $135 million, and the Chamber "has even gone as far as soliciting foreign corporations to fund its political operations," the report says.
Four years ago, in the 2006 midterm elections, 97 percent of election ads disclosed their donors. This year a mere 32 percent identify who paid for the ad. "So far, $532,868 has been spent by corporate and right-wing special interests to help elect Dino Rossi," MoveOn says. These outfits are spending five times more in this midterm election than they spent in the 2006 midterm elections in their drive to grab majority control on Capitol Hill.
"If they succeed then kiss goodbye health care and environmental laws. Hello tax cuts for the rich and Wall Street deregulation," MoveOn said, urging a massive fightback to "Stop the Takeover."
So far, more than 170,000 calls have been made in MoveOn's phonebanking against the GOP power grab. The corporate cash flood was unleashed after the Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling that permits unlimited corporate funding for right-wing Republican candidates in the name of "freedom of speech."
Photo: Streetcorner "wave" to reelect Sen. Patty Murray, in Sequim, Wash., Oct. 13. (PW/Tim Wheeler)