With spending from interest groups up 1,100 percent since the last presidential campaign, the emerging fact checking industry has been busy.
Fact checkers have gotten so exasperated by all the ads, Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post recently lamented that “watching these ads is a depressing duty for The Fact Checker…. The erroneous assertions emerge … without any shame, labeled as ‘the truth’ or ‘fact.’”
And there’s a reason for all that exasperation. According to a new analysis from the Annenberg Public Policy Center, 85 percent of spending on presidential ads by the top spending conservative 501(c)(4) organizations went toward spots labeled “deceptive” by fact checkers. Third-party 501(c)(4) groups, commonly referred to as political action committees, do not have to disclose their donors.
As of June 1st, no Democratic 501(c)(4) organizations had spent any money on the presidential race.
The Annenberg analysis outlines the top four conservative interest groups funneling money into deceptive ads:
- American Energy Alliance, which champions free market energy policies and spent an estimated $3.3 million ($3,269,000) on deceptive presidential ads.
- Americans for Prosperity, founded by billionaire businessman and conservative activist David Koch to support lower taxes and limited government spending, spent an estimated $5 million ($5,018,000) on presidential ads containing deceptions.
- American Future Fund, a Republican-leaning group founded by longtime Iowa political operative Nick Ryan and headed by state Senator Sandra Greiner, spent an estimated $6.4 million ($6,365,930) on deceptive presidential ads.
- Crossroads GPS, a conservative public policy advocacy group advised by former Bush lieutenant Karl Rove and former RNC director Ed Gillespie, spent an estimated $10.3 million ($10,263,760) on deceptive presidential ads. The group is a companion organization to the super PAC American Crossroads.
A large share of those ads have been focused on energy — particularly on the solar company Solyndra. A Bloomberg analysis found that 81 percent attack ads against President Obama were related to energy in the first quarter of this year. Overall, negative ads are up 70 percent since the 2008 presidential election.
Behold the legacy of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision: A whole lot of lies and very little accountability.
Below is a video put together by FlackCheck.org documenting the extraordinary increase in deceptive ads: