For­get the Kochs: La­bor spent most on elec­tion ads

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY KEL­LAN HOW­ELL

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.

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