As an organization, Independent Voters of America has the goal of holding political parties and politicians accountable for hyperpartisanship and congressional gridlock, as well as negative attack ads and campaigning. However, holding politicians accountable is harder than ever today, especially in the age of “non coordinating” super PACs and independent expenditure groups, where campaigns simply have plausible deniability to claim a third party ad isn’t their problem.
“It’s not my ad! I’m not coordinating with that super PAC… that would be illegal!” Does that sound like a joke to you? It didn’t to Mitt Romney when he remarked:
“Super PACs have to be entirely separate from a campaign and a candidate. I’m not allowed to communicate with a super PAC in any way, shape or form… If we coordinate in any way whatsoever, we go to the big house.”
“This is a man whose staff created the PAC, his millionaire friends fund the PAC, he pretends he has nothing to do with the PAC. It’s baloney.”
Meanwhile, the Obama super PAC “Priorities USA” has certainly contributed to 2012′s super PAC “race to the bottom.” Most recently, they released the buzzed about “Understands” ad last week, which infers a woman’s death from cancer was caused by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital. Of course, despite the ad receiving the worst fact checking score of “four pinocchios” by the Washington Post, the Obama Campaign has disavowed any responsibility. Of course – it’s an outside group, not us!
At this point in the 2012 election, it may seem like there’s nothing we can do about negative, lying attack ads. However there is one simple way to combat these ads — if they’re run by independent expenditure groups. As academic Kathleen Hall Jamieson explains for AARP, anyone can be a Super PAC watchdog, because by law:
“With few exceptions, broadcast stations have to air ads sponsored by federal candidates, they can reject outside groups’ ads or, if they choose to air them, insist that they stick to the facts…
Go to the “Stand by Your Ad” page at APPC’s FlackCheck.org and email your local station managers. Encourage them to protect their viewers from air pollution. The process takes less than two minutes. More than 900 of the 1,047 station managers have already heard from their viewers. Please make your voice heard now.”
If you’ve seen a lying political ad air recently run by an independent expenditure or “dark money” group on a station in your area, we encourage you to get in touch with your local station managers and request that they stop airing the misleading ad.