Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Turn It Off: Dark Money

I know this may surprise you, but all the political ads on TV are for the most part misleading you.  The ones that are not paid for by candidates themselves, are using what is called "dark money." These people are experts at twisting facts and lying by omission.

Last election cycle, I wrote that you need to mute the ads.  The fact is that most political ads' impacts are fleeting.  They are most likely paid attention to by those who already support what they are advertising, but if you spend more than thirty seconds checking the facts on sites other than the biased ones, you wild discover how twisted they are.

Political ads by the politicians that pay for them are usually stilted or ignoring essential facts.  For example, here in good old Colorado, candidate Cory Gardiner announces he is for over-the-counter birth control.  It's not a new stance for the Republican candidate.  What he is not telling you is that Congress has no say in what prescription medications are sold over the counter.  Another ad announces the Senator Mark Udall voted against the Keystone Pipeline effecting jobs in Colorado. Yes he did vote against it and no it does not effect jobs in Colorado.  The fact is the Keystone Pipeline will be nearly 200 miles away from Colorado at its nearest point. The permanent jobs it will produce is projected at  35.  Another add demands that Obamacare should be repealed.  Anyone, whether they like the program or dislike the program, knows that The Affordable Care Act is not going away anytime soon. It is an ad clearly aimed at the Tea Party base.

The most insidious of the dark money ads though are the ones that pedal fear.  The NRA is particularly adept at this one.  One of the current best fear monger ads this season is the one against amendment 68 which will allow gambling at three horse tracks, two of which are not even built, in Colorado.  The ad is most likely paid for by casinos in Nevada and Atlantic City who also own casinos in Colorado. It actually seeks to make people who vote for it afraid we might be giving money to Rhode Island.  You know, that scary state, the smallest one in the Union, Rhode Island?  After all, we should be concerned more about allowing a business in Rhode Island to make money than the 100 plus million dollars that it is projected to bring into schools in a state that is now 40th in student funding K-12 and 50th in higher education.  The irony of this ad is that it attempts to scare voters about an out-of-state company making money in an ad paid for by an out-of-state company.

You may have noticed that I said the ad was "most likely" paid for by out-of-state gambling interests. That is the problem with dark money.  It does not have to reveal who its donors and supporters are.  For all we know the anti-68 movement is paid for by one rich guy sitting in a loft apartment in Hoboken.  Why scare us? Will it really cut into the other casinos? I doubt it.  What it could do, if we pass it, is perhaps start us thinking that it really might not be such a bad idea. It might help our poor state, which is hobbled by TABOR, by raising taxes on existing casinos.  Hey, if 68 gives us money for schools, and the sales tax on pot gives us a boost...why not  look at what we are charging the other gambling establishments?

If an ad does not say it is approved by the candidate, it is dark money no matter what the name of the organization.  They may be owned by the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson or Michael Bloomberg.  Dark money is not the voice of the many but the few. It's time to hit that mute button and