From the Washington Post:
Unions and other Democratic interest groups are rapidly closing the gap with their conservative opponents in spending on the midterm elections, using fresh support from well-heeled donors to quicken the pace of expenditures in the final days of the campaign.
Democratic leaders from President Obama on down have assailed the spending by outside conservative groups, complaining that the business lobby and other Republican allies are pouring millions of dollars into the election as they shield donors from public scrutiny.
But now independent groups that support Democrats - including unions, environmental groups and new players - are fast gaining ground, often while using some of the same techniques condemned by Democrats. The strategies include using money from nonprofit organizations that can keep their donors secret and tapping into union dues to pay for unlimited attack ads.
Nearly four of every 10 dollars spent by independent groups last week was aimed at helping Democratic candidates, according to a Washington Post analysis of campaign-finance disclosure filings. The number is a dramatic improvement from just a few weeks earlier, when Democratic allies were being outspent by 7 to 1, the data show.
Once spending by the parties themselves is added into the mix, Democratic candidates are getting the benefit of nearly half - 46 percent - of independent spending reported to the Federal Election Commission. Many Democratic incumbents are also sitting on flush bank accounts that they have been building up since the end of the 2008 election.
Many of these Political Action Committees (PACs) are super PACs that can, and are, raising vast sums of money outside normal caps that apply to individuals giving to candidates or parties. They can be formed in a flash. One of the newest entrants is a group called America's Families First Action Fund that was formed recently and will have spent $15 million by election day. One of its prime funders is Taco Bell heir Rob McKay, who is rapidly emerging as one of the cleverest political operators/funders in the nation (read about his role in helping to flip Colorado into the Democratic column in the "The Colorado Model" by Fred Barnes).
Democrats are now using the same Citizens United decision that Barack Obama disgracefully condemned in his last State of the Union address.
But now Democratic allies are catching up, often by taking advantage of the same court rulings decried by Obama and other Democrats.
Unions, for example, are now able to use dues money to pay for targeted advertising spots in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 2 elections, something that would not have been possible before Citizens United. The option frees up money in the unions' political-action committees for other things, including last-minute donations to endangered Democrats.
Larry Scanlon, political director at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the high-court ruling will let AFSCME use $17 million in "soft money" in its general treasury for ads. That frees up "hard money" in its PAC, he said....
The three biggest labor groups - AFSCME, the Service Employees International Union and the National Education Association- together have vowed to spend more than $170 million on political activities during the 2010 cycle, although that figure includes money spent in 2009 as well as funds spent this year on state and local races.
We won't be hearing about the pernicious effects of "secret money" helping Democrats from Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and other beneficiaries. Double standards and hypocrisy: core Democratic principles.