Forget the Kochs: Labor spent most on election ads
Despite predictions that right-wing money would flood the political system after the Supreme Court threw out key campaign finance laws, a survey finds that left-leaning groups, led by labor unions, outspent conservative donors like the billionaire Koch brothers in state political advertising wars last year.
Outside groups — nonprofits, super PACs, business and labor groups, and private individuals — spent at least $209 million to influence state-level elections in the 38 states in the 2012 election cycle. Money funneled through party groups such as the Democratic Governors Association and Republican Governors Association accounted for nearly 40 percent of the $209 million.
The study, released this week by the watchdog group the Center for Public Integrity, also found that groups supportive of Democrats, led by labor unions, outpaced their GOP rivals by more than $8 million in those states, spending some $44 million to Association $1.25 million, and David Koch gave $1 million.
The Republican State Leadership Committee, sometimes known as the association’s “little brother,” received $1.2 million from the Koch-backed super PAC, the American Future Fund. Outside conservative money was credited with helping Republicans wrest the North Carolina and Arkansas state legislatures from Democratic control.
Analysts say one reason for the heavy state giving patterns is that the money can have far more of a policy impact at the state level than in national campaigns.
“Republicans have said they have given up on the gridlocked Congress and that they can do better at the state level, but it’s actually the Democrats doing better at the state level,” Mr. Dunbar said.
In New Hampshire, for example, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontange emerged from the primaries last year with a $250,000 to $17,000 cashon-hand advantage over Democratic rival Maggie Hassan.