Has political spending by outside groups in this year’s campaign been a good thing?

Each Monday now through the election, we’ll pose a question related to the race for governor. Today’s Question: Has political spending by outside groups in this year’s campaign been a good thing?

Republican candidate Tom Emmer:

Independent expenditures allow individuals and others the opportunity to express and advocate for their points of view. When done as allowed by law, it is an expression of speech that can be positive if they have honest dialogue about issues.

We will continue to campaign on our positive message of government living within its means and creating jobs.

Democratic candidate Mark Dayton:

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that our Constitution’s First Amendment, which is, of course, fundamental to our democracy, protects political expenditures. What is needed, however, is full disclosure of the actual sources of all that money, so voters know who is behind it, and whose interests are really being represented. I will insist on that legislation for Minnesota, if I’m elected governor.

Independence Party candidate Tom Horner:

Outside spending — especially by national special interest groups — puts Minnesota’s future up for sale. Their focus is on negative ads and dividing Minnesotans. It will only stop when candidates show the leadership to stand up to these organizations and tell them to stop.

  • Clark

    Though I am tired of all the candidate advertising, I am happy outside groups and corporations balance the far left union money.

    It is an absolute joke, public employee unions can support political candidates who support increased pay and benefits for public workers. Have you not seen what is happeningin Greece, France, Spain, Belgium?

    As long as the far left democrats lose, I will be happy. Especially to see that old hag pelosi’s face when she is in the minority.

  • Candidates, particularly the right should take their own campaign promises to heart – STOP THE SPENDING.

    Historically outrageoius amounts are being spent to influence voters.

    Campaign finance reform once a precious non-partisan effort has been trounced upon by its own creators.

    The Center for Responsive Politics reminds us it takes money to track the money.

    We need to get money out and principles back into our politics.

  • Hiram

    No, it hasn’t. The outside groups seem to be amateur operations, without the feel for politics needed to benefit their candidates. It’s pretty clear that the outside groups are there to make money for their organizers, Brian McClung and Denise Cardinal, and provide an opportunity for naive rich people and corporations to waste their money.

  • Dianne

    No, it has not been a good thing. It has drawn attention away from the issues and into personal attacks. We need a massive campaign spending over haul in this country.

  • J

    Lovely to see that it took only few minutes for Clark to write something insulting and completely useless to the question … plus spelling problems. Clearly it was not written from an educated view considering it is the extreme right-wing that is tearing Belguim in two.

    Anyway, all I wanted to say was that I picked a good time to sell my TV! I’ve luckily been spared most of this junk. Never thought that $ would equal speech? Now we have it.

  • Steve the Cynic

    In the long term it will be a good thing, because the nastiness of these outside ads reveals the true colors of both political extremes. Both the far right and the far left are more interested in destroying the other side and its candidates than in promoting the common good through sensible public policy. Maybe now people will realize the need for electoral reforms, such as ranked-choice voting.

    On the other hand, everyone loves to watch a good fight. Maybe if politics is exciting enough, demand for a new Vikings stadium will drop off.

  • Paul

    Look, labor unions have been influencing elections through their hefty spending for many election cycles. Why is this all of the sudden an issue when corporations are now contributing? Check opensecrets.org. Most of these PACs are giving money almost equally to the Republicans and Democrats. Check it for yourself.

  • Gary F

    Outside spending?

    Like Alliance for a Better Minnesota with money from the Rockefeller family?

  • Sue de Nim

    All that money pouring into the Minnesota economy from outside the state can’t be all bad, huh?

  • Vicki Brady

    I hate it and left or right it’s a problem. Outside groups getting more airtime in an area than the candidates who live there? I know the world is global but politics is supposed to be local and I don’t think people should be pushing their agendas all over the country.

  • james melzer

    Are you freaking kidding me?

  • Kirk

    I am disappointed/disgusted that the Supreme Court has put our political process up for sale to the highest bidder. What has happened to American values?!

  • Steve Longfellow

    Emmer’s “and others” are the corporations and the very, very rich people who control them. The “and others” is nothing more than the plutocracy’s Trojan horse. So, no, it’s a really bad thing that really scares me.

  • H. Michael

    How much of the outside groups’ money has been spent laying out a case for an issue or candidate – probably next to nothing. How much has been spent on attack ads – almost all. This can’t be a good thing.

  • Peter T

    Emmer: “When done as allowed by law, it is an expression of speech that can be positive if they have honest dialogue about issues.”

    The law allows anonymous attack ads – how can those lead to honest dialogue?

  • I’m not sure I understand the logic behind making unions and corporations legal “individuals,” or defining money as “speech.” That’s another question, though.

    I haven’t seen a political ad yet that advanced the public dialog or educated the public. Most are inentionally misleading and disengenuous, and the attack ads are particularly shameful. I suspect that corporations have spent a lot more money lobbying and buying attack ads to try to keep their taxes low than they would have spent just paying the taxes.

    It’s no wonder no one has any respect for government; the ads all lead us to believe that no matter who we pick, we will be sending some scoundrel, the just-lesser-of-two-evils, to represent us.

    Maybe one day the public will grow disgusted enough to decide to boycott any media outlet that plays political ads.

  • Nick

    No, the outside spending is not good. At the very least, there needs to be more transparency as proposed by Mark Dayton.

    The three gubernatorial candidates are actually running fairly friendly non-negative ads. However, the special interest groups, acting as surrogates for the candidates, are running the mean, dishonest attack ads that we all detest. I think the special interest money/ads are getting very close to the “with friends like these, who needs enemies” axiom.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    The flood of astronomical amounts of money from anonymous sources in the wake of the Supreme Court’s criminal distortion of the US Constitution only hastens the end of this democracy.

    No corporate or union money should EVER finance a campaign.

    The average American no longer has a voice.

  • Philip

    No – why can’t all the money spent on political ads be used to broadcast re-runs of Sanford and Son?

  • Ben

    First sentence must specify if the sponsoring group is based in the state the candidate is running in.

    There should be Full disclosure of funders names and snail mail addrs of ALL funders of all donations . within 1 min after the ad is run, with mention of the web site and snail mail addr included in the ad copy. NO PO Boxes allowed. and ‘individual’ funders subject to libel laws.

    If you pay to spread a lie you should pay for the retraction too. Where they have to pay for any retractions or corrections 24 hrs after initial posting.

  • Tony

    Paul, this has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans and who’s funding who. That misses the whole point of the issue.

    Everyone gets sick of attack ads no matter where you are or when the election is. The ability of any group to anonymously use what resorts to almost guerilla warfare tactics through ads just shows how whoever airs an ad needs to be held accountable for what they say. Through free speech we are allowed to voice our opinions, but we are also expected to stand by our claims and not shirk the consequences of what we say. Most people don’t remember that from when they were taught about the first amendment in school. Yet, for some reason that doesn’t seem to apply to these outside funding sources.

    If outside funding actually encouraged debate towards actually solving problems, then I would be more mindful of it. However, as it currently stands it’s used to make the same old mudslinging tactics ever more pervasive and just clog up government with powerplays. Minnesotans used to take pride in how well things used to run even through changes of political climates. Now the whole polarizing effect that these outside groups amplify shifts the focus away from Minnesota itself. Doesn’t anyone take pride in Minnesota anymore? With that goal in mind I’ve seen plenty of Democrats and Republicans get good work accomplished, but it seems like much of the public and politicians don’t subscribe to that ideal anymore. Instead it’s the typical mentality of the opposing party being pure evil with no merit whatsoever that has strengthened its hold and rules the day. The effects of these groups looking to extend their influence at the expense of Minnesota itself has been pretty noticeable, and definitely not a good thing.

  • steve

    i think campaigns get bogged-down in money issues and personal attacks- an overhaul of campaign spending is in order. lets keep campaigns clean and honest!

  • Perfect representation demands we give everyone an equal voice and not pursue a louder voice than others. Political groups are like clots within a republic that inhibit the flow of representation from those unable to purchase representation and from those unwilling to subvert a republic thru purchasing representation. I don’t think settling for less than a perfect republic is a good thing or constitutional.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “Look, labor unions have been influencing elections through their hefty spending for many election cycles. Why is this all of the sudden an issue when corporations are now contributing?”

    Maybe, because corporations are spending way more than unions could ever hope to?

  • Kevin VC

    Personally NO political action group should be allowed to advertise and out shout the candidates OWN message.

    Some say its now balanced with the Union and left oriented groups. Thats is a joke. Its a 1000 to 1 out of balance. And anyone who thinks the advertising is from people (as in plural) of the area THESE government officials are to represent is also a joke.

    The Tea party is clearly almost Solely funded by the KOCH brothers. In otherwords WALLSTREET is controlling the message, the same guys who make a killing in the current economic crisis.

    They are also being allowed to place advertising without citing and proving their factoids before airing.

    I feel it is OVER KILL and honestly joke about maybe we will go through another economic crisis because other COMPANIES trying to make a living can’t advertise because there is NOT air time for anything else.

    It is a crime.

    Candidates should just point to what they support, don’t support, and maybe do a some compare and contrast. A debate per office should be a must…. And how about limit campaigning to two months, 3 months before, and the last month NO ADVERTISING.

    Doing some calling around from a polling place I can say people are MAD at the overkill advertising right now. And the blatant lies and exagerations.

    And another thing: End the attack ads.

    No ifs, ands, or buts…….

  • Kevin VC

    There are hundreds of articles and even leaked notes from Koch…. This has been his golden child this advertising agenda….

    This is just one:


  • Kevin VC

    This is my last addition to this:

    Citing WHO is funding and the amount is not a violation of freedom of speech. We have a right to know who said what.

    There needs to be reinstatement of the LIMIT to the amount one can donate as well.

    This is part of what campaign finance reform was about. Cleaning up the politics so the candidates do not OWE to a donation, but continue with their duty to their community they represent. Not a billionaires opinion.

    This is as near to a political bribe anyone can get and still be LEGAL, and yet I personally feel this is not honestly legal.

    Represent the people, not the money.

  • Clark

    J You idiot. I work France and Belgium and see the impact of the far left unions. As far as spelling, I use a french laptop so it is not easy as the keys are different than U.S. forgot to bow to almightly leftist who believe only they know best. . I dislike far left democrats and believe they are wrong. If corporate money helps my cause then that is good. Go back and complete your GED!

  • Steve the Cynic

    Kevin VC: Quit beating around the bush. Tell us how you really feel. 😉

    Clark: You’re correct that the “far left” is misguided, but so is the far right. Idiocy lurks at both extremes. The truth is, America had been moving further to the right from 1981 through 2006. Obama and the current crop of Democrats are only pulling us back to the center. If they appear to be “far left,” that’s only because of how far right we’ve drifted.

  • Steve

    It’s not so much the money as the tone of the ads. We don’t hear about their ideas or vision only about how bad/evil the other person is. I am sick of the whole thing and really hope that we as a country can somehow rise above this childishness and get back to talking – and disagreeing – respectfully, like neighbors.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I realized something in the last few days as the attack ads have gotten worse: If the candidate being attacked really is so horrible, the attackers wouldn’t have to run nasty ads. They could just state the truth, show the evidence, and be done with it. The nastiness of the rant is inversely related to the legitimacy of the reasons to oppose a candidate.