The rise of the SuperPACs will likely take opposition research to a new level in the 2012 campaign. Already, some of these have huge war chests: American Crossroads, a Republican SuperPAC created by Bush's former chief political strategist Karl Rove, disclosed that it spent $70 million in 2010 - mostly on congressional races - and plans to spend another $240 million this election cycle, primarily on attacking Democratic candidates, including an onslaught against President Barack Obama.
American Bridge is tiny by comparison, with $3.1 million raised from donors such as Hollywood producer Steve Bing, Peter Lewis, the chairman of Progressive Insurance, and the labor unions SEIU and ACSME. But it hopes to pull in $15 million by the end of 2012, and other SuperPACs have formed on the Democratic side.
The fact that the SuperPACs, by law, operate independent of individual campaigns cancels the political calculus that makes a candidate leery of becoming personally associated with the most salacious or vicious attacks. Barack Obama apologized after his staff circulated a memo headlined "Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)," suggesting that Bill and Hillary Clinton supported outsourcing American jobs because they had invested in India and Bill Clinton had accepted big speaking fees from Cisco, which had moved work to India.
"When you had a direct connection between a campaign and the research being done, there is only so far you could go," says Berkowitz. "Now, with these SuperPACs, anyone who believes deeper investigation needs to be done doesn't have to wait for the campaign or the party committee to agree on them. They can just fund it themselves and move forward."
And if a campaign and a SuperPAC independently discover the same damaging information on an opponent, Berkowitz adds, "you have two different thought processes as to when it best helps the candidate to get it out there."
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Super PACs and Oppo
At Reuters, Timothy Reid writes: