One day it was NPR’s All Things Considered reporting Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio’s (D-Sandbagged) search – to no avail – for the “mystery” group attacking him with an $86,000 (according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) ad campaign.

The next day it was New York Times reporter Mike McIntire chasing – to no avail – the elusive group targeting Congressional candidates across the country with hundreds of thousands of dollars in attack ads.

Do we detect a pattern emerging here?

In DeFazio’s case, the mystery group is Concerned Taxpayers for America, a Potemkin PAC that MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow calls a “money-laundering” outfit.

Times reporter McIntire, for his part, was in pursuit of the Coalition to Protect Seniors, currently running $400,000 worth of TV spots in a variety of Congressional districts (see spots here).

He found pretty much nothing, since there’s nothing much to find.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission decision has unleashed a barrage of corporate front groups that can spend as much as they want and reveal as little as they want. (The Coalition to Protect Seniors, for instance, seems to be a straw for the health insurance industry, which in reality wants to protect its profits far more than seniors.)

This is the new political landscape. And it sure looks like scorched earth.


John R. Carroll, who also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town, is an NPR media analyst and a journalism professor at Boston University.
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