Buying Influence: Outside Groups Open Their Wallets In Senate Race

By Jeff Neumeyer

October 11, 2012 Updated Oct 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM EDT

INDIANA, (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- We're being hit right now by rapid-fire attack ads in Indiana's hotly contested U.S. Senate race.

But in many of the commercials, the candidates themselves aren't the ones shooting the arrows.

The landscape in this area has changed dramatically since a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The so-called "Citizens United" Supreme Court ruling opened the door for more outside spending in political races, all in the name of promoting free speech.

But is it serving the public good?

"In times of trouble, we stand together, but not Richard Mourdock."

That’s part of the text from an ad currently airing that slams Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.

It goes on to say, "Mourdock tried to stop the Chrysler rescue that saved 100,000 Indiana jobs."

Is the ad paid for by Democratic opponent Joe Donnelly's campaign?

The answer is no.

Instead, the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees picked up the tab.

"Joe Donnelly said yes to the Obama-Pelosi bankrupting- job killing agenda."

That is text from a different ad labeling Donnelly a liberal and big spender.

Mourdock did not foot the bill for the commercial.

Instead, you can thank the National Republican Senatorial Committee for its content.

Political analyst Andy Downs says outside groups are more likely to play fast and loose with the facts than the campaigns actually in the heat of the battle.

" Because the campaigns know they're going to be held accountable and they have a public face, a public persona they need to worry about,” said Downs, who is with the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics.

“The outside groups, they could be gone by the end of the year, and if somebody wants to say they misused a stat, they don't care, if it gets them their end result, which is a victory for their candidate."

The amount of money being pumped into the Presidential race is staggering.

The Center for Public Integrity reports that since Labor Day, corporations, unions, non profits, and other Super PACs have spent $217-million on ads, urging voters to support one candidate or the other.

Don't expect it to let up for the next 26 days.




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