“Follow the money” was Deep Throat’s advice during the Watergate scandal. In the intervening years, conservatives have gotten a lot better at covering up the money’s footprints. Karl Rove’s money networks are expected to raise some $250 million for ads for GOP candidates in the election. That’s enough to flood the airwaves… and drown democracy. And it’s all done in secret. It’s like the Underground Railroad, except they’re trying to railroad this election. Karl Rove is used to winning campaigns with lies and dirty tricks. In the post-Citizens United era, the main difference is that he has well-funded lies and dirty tricks. Can anything be done about it? NBC’s Michael Isikoff said “It’s going to depend whether voters get upset.” Well, there are hundreds of millions of dollars available to make sure they don’t know a damned thing about it. How can voters get upset over the money buying the election when that money is being spent to get them upset over things that have nothing to do with the election? Heck, the biggest danger for these networks of secret donors is that there are so many of them that they’re going to run out of fake patriotic-sounding names. American Future Fund, America’s Families First Action Fund, Citizens for Strength and Security Action Fund, and RevereAmerica.org… I guess they all sound better than “Billionaires for Billionaires.”
The only real competition that Karl Rove’s secret money network has is the US Chamber of Commerce… and they’re doing the exact same thing, for exact same people, and probably funded by the exact same donors. A New York Times investigation shows that nearly half of the $140 million in contributions the Chamber got in 2008 came from just 45 donors. So the Chamber may have 300,000 members, but it’s really being run by a tiny handful of powerful corporations. And that’s the model they have for America as a whole. The Chamber defends its secretiveness on the grounds that the corporations who donate get hassled by protesters. Wow, it turns out that, not only are corporations human—they have feelings too! The Chamber’s chief lobbyist said that the companies are “confronted with protests at their corporate headquarters, protests and harassment at the C.E.O.’s homes.” So they’re basically saying they don’t want to disclose their actions because people don’t like their actions. Here’s a basic rule of thumb, Chamber People—if you have to hide what you’re doing, maybe what you’re doing is wrong.