Jeanne Cummings writes at Politico:
Crossroads’ tax status — as a “social action” network, effectively a charity — allows the group to keep its donors secret, as it does for the other groups as well. But it also requires them to prove to the IRS that they deserve that special, non-political status, and the perks that go along with it. They do so by balancing out the millions spent on campaign ads with millions more spent on issue ads, which sound almost exactly like the campaign ads.
The upshot: An unrelenting political cycle that isn’t likely to fade from the scene anytime soon.
Former Rep. Tom Davis and others say the new reality is a direct result of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which restricted the amount of money the political party committees could raise and sent that cash into the private sector to be exploited by outside groups.
“It’s a spiral that began with campaign finance reform that went on steroids after the Citizens United case,” said the moderate Virginia Republican, in a reference to last year’s Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of cash in campaigns for federal lawmakers.
The way Davis sees it, the overall affect is a corrosive one that will harden partisan lines and make the sort of compromises and bipartisanship sought by independent voters much harder to achieve.
“It polarizes [House and Senate members] and it is a very disciplining message for members to stay within their coalition,” he said. “These are basically shots across the bow, just letting members know what’s in store for them.”...
Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio said some of its advertising was done in response to a significantly smaller ad campaign launched by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee against 50 targeted Republicans.
“There was a sense that [the DCCC] was more interested in the buy as a media stunt. They spent about $500 per district. Our sense was we could go into the same districts and have a much bigger impact than what they were trying to do,” he said.