Reports Reveal Extent of Strength, Coordination Among Right Wing Third Party Groups

American Rights at Work and People for the American Way have both recently issued reports that reveal not just the big players backing pro-corporate candidates in this Fall’s elections, but also how those players are working together.

People for the American Way’s report, After Citizens United, looks into groups that are thriving in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that granted corporations the same first amendment rights as people. PFAW examines: 60 Plus Association, American Action Network, American Crossroads & Crossroads GPS, American Future Fund, Americans for Job Security, Americans for New Leadership & Liberty.com, Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to see how these groups have reacted to the increased ability of corporations to influence elections.

Of particular note from PFAW’s report:

While we do not know who is funding such organizations, we do know that the groups playing a larger role in the 2010 elections are overwhelmingly backing right-wing candidates. According to TIME¸ pro-Republican groups could spend as much as $300 million for the 2010 election. Many of the organizations almost exclusively supporting pro-corporate politicians never even have to report where their funding comes from. Corporate dollars are also financing many Tea Party and other conservative “grassroots” groups, giving “Astroturfing” an even more prominent role in American politics.

American Rights at Work (ARAW)’s report, Behind the Anti-Worker Agenda, focuses on six top third party players. It’s no coincidence that there’s heavy overlap in subject matter between the two reports: American Crossroads, Americans for Prosperity, The Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and U.S. Chamber Watch’s favorite, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are the focus of ARAW’s report.

Of particular note in ARAW’s report: these groups have not just organically sprung from some grass roots sentiment, as they may like you to believe. ARAW says these groups are “working in tandem” with each other:

The National Journal reported that in April, Rove held an event at his home that included not only American Crossroads officials, but also former Senator Norm Coleman and Fred Malek, who run the American Action Network, a new non-profit trying to raise $25 million for pro-GOP advocacy ads. In addition, Bill Miller, the political director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was in attendance, and said his organization planned to raise $50 million for issue ads this year. The National Journal also noted that American Crossroads and American Action Network had moved into adjacent offices in Washington, D.C.

By combining their influence, corporate-friendly groups have gained a 7 to 1 edge over Democrats – more than making up for the DNC’s fundraising advantage over its Republican counterpart. In fact, these Republican-leaning outside groups spent more to sway the November congressional elections during September’s first four weeks than the two political parties combined, and the trend is slated to continue. Between now and Oct. 20, groups backing Republicans have $9.4 million worth of TV ads reserved across 40 districts, while organizations supporting Democrats have put down only $1.3 million in five districts. Some of these groups, like the U.S. Chamber and American Crossroads, have been spending huge sums of cash in key House and Senate races in a seemingly coordinated fashion: On the Senate side, the U.S. Chamber played first in New Hampshire, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Colorado. Then in all five states, as the Chamber left to unleash millions in California and Colorado, Crossroads GPS moved in to fill the Chamber’s void, spending its own millions.

As the Chamber broadly focuses on Senate races, others are focusing on the House. Americans for Job Security has reported spending about $4 million in House districts in Indiana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Further, Politico reports that some are pouring millions into long-shot House races once thought to be out of the GOP’s reach: “The outside organizations… are focused not on the most competitive races but, rather, on just-below-the-radar contests that the National Republican Congressional Committee doesn’t have the resources to compete in. The effect is to enable the NRCC to concentrate its dollars on the most winnable races without forgoing others that could break in the GOP’s favor in the event of a wave election.”

The upshot of these two reports: Not only did corporate dominance of politics receive a huge shot in the arm from the Supreme Court in Citizens United, but third party groups that allow corporations to anonymously fund political spending are working in concert to elect a pro-corporate Congress this Fall.

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