A coalition of progressive institutions will launch a major new initiative Tuesday designed to push back against, and even dissuade, conservative groups and funders from launching major election-themed ad campaigns in the weeks ahead.
MoveOn.org Political Action, Media Matters Action Network, and ThinkProgress.org are collaborating on a project (nameless for now) that organizers say is the most comprehensive response yet to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, allowing unlimited corporate contributions in federal elections.
The groups will undertake five primary functions, according to an announcement of the project that the Huffington Post was given in advance of its official release.
- Track the ads and fact check them when they go up
- Demand ads that are false be removed from the air
- Facilitate citizen investigation and breaking reporting on who's behind the ads
- Mobilize in districts and states to inform citizens of special interests behind the ads
- Force candidates supported by these ads to disavow them (and hold these candidates accountable if they don't)
The goal, in essence, is to fill some of the void created by Congress' inability to pass new election spending disclosure laws over the course of the summer. But the actions taken by this trio of groups stands to be far more aggressive than simply requiring information on who is spending what on which specific campaign. Officials familiar with the plans say that among the tools the groups will utilize include media campaigns of their own, protests on the site of specific corporations who spend money on ads, and grassroots education to inform voters about an ad's inaccuracy or sources of funding.
It is similar, in a way, to the largely successful effort MoveOn ran against Target after the retail giant donated money to a group that spent on behalf Minnesota's Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Only, in this instance, the group will have access to the fact-checking that Media Matters has already been doing with respect to conservative ads, as well as the institutional support of Think Progress, which has done extensive reportorial work tracking corporate spending in the 2010 elections.
The groups will not have independent staff to organize and coordinate this new effort. Instead, much of the work will done as part of the regular communications that takes place between the organizations.
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