In the shadows

Who exactly is behind all those TV campaign ads – not those from the candidates themselves, but the others, from bland-sounding organizations that typically put up some of the worst and most misleading of the bunch? Reporting sometimes digs that out, well after the fact – after the election. That kind of transparency has been spiked in large part by one of the worst U.S. Supreme Court decisions of recent times (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission).

More candidates should do about that what Representative Peter DeFazio did – confront these people directly. As directly as possible, at least.

An ad running in the Oregon 4th district, which DeFazio represents, attributed to the Concerned Taxpayers of America, blasted DeFazio for a number of things, including being a loyal puppet for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That last at least is patently false, but it makes for an effective talking point. And who is Concerned Taxpayers? Well, that’s something of a mystery. Huffington Post remarked that “Very little is known about Concerned Taxpayers. The group’s treasurer is a man named Jason Miller, who, according to the FEC report, is with a Republican political consulting firm called Jamestown Associates.”

DeFazio decided to do something about it. He decided to pay Concerned Taxpayers of America, whose listed headquarters in Washington is only a few blocks from his own congressional office, a personal visit. He invited news organizations (the Washington Post and Huffington Post for two) along.

The visit didn’t settle a lot, since the man answering the door denied knowing much about the organization, though that clearly seemed to be untrue. The whole picture surrounding CTA looks increasingly like a pack of lies.

DeFazio to Huffington Post: “DeFazio believes that more politicians should be confronting these groups face-to-face. “We’ve got to take it to them,” he told HuffPost. “I’m an activist, always have been my whole life, and I’m going there to confront them and say, ‘Who are you, and why are you so afraid to disclose where your money come from? Would it totally discredit your attacks on me and other Democrats? Would it totally discredit your organization?’ We don’t know who they are. And as I said earlier, how can we enforce existing law, which does say it can’t be a foreign government, a foreign entity, a foreign individual, but if we are allowed no disclosure, how will we ever know who funded these campaigns?””

Others should join him.

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