Murray a top national target for secret donors' millions
If Sen. Patty Murray ends up winning a fourth term, the Washington Democrat will have eked out a victory despite being one of the nation's biggest targets of attack ads funded by anonymous donors.
Seattle Times Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — If U.S. Sen. Patty Murray ends up winning a fourth term, the Washington Democrat will have eked out a victory despite being one of the nation's biggest targets of attack ads funded by anonymous donors.
Murray's Republican opponent, Dino Rossi, benefited from more spending by independent groups funded by anonymous donors than any congressional candidate nationwide except Republican Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, who defeated Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias for the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Obama.
Outside groups that can raise unlimited money but do not have to reveal their donors spent more than $3.7 million to oppose Murray, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit government-transparency organization in Washington, D.C. Such groups spent $4.4 million against Giannoulias.
The true extent of the influence of such donors in this year's elections won't be known until Dec. 31, after final independent expenditure reports are filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The spending is part of a deluge of money from outside groups not tied to the Republican or Democratic parties. Both Rossi and Murray benefited from independent expenditures, in the form of advertising urging votes for or against one or the other.
Including political parties, outside groups spent nearly $11 million on Rossi's behalf; for Murray, the spending was $8 million. Unlimited independent expenditures are permitted as long as they are not coordinated with the candidates or their campaigns.
Rossi, however, far outstripped Murray in spending by groups that don't have to disclose their donors.
Rossi directly or indirectly benefited from $5.4 million in expenditures by such groups, according to an analysis of disclosure reports. That includes groups that spent money specifically to oppose Murray and those that funded electioneering activities that benefited Rossi.
Less than $1 million in outside expenditures on behalf of Murray came from groups that have not identified their financial backers.
Rossi's chief benefactor was Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a nonprofit tied to GOP strategist Karl Rove. A so-called 501(c)(4) group that does not have to name its donors, Crossroads GPS spent $3.6 million on anti-Murray ads.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent heavily to defeat Democratic candidates around the country, sank $1 million into the Washington Senate race for electioneering ads that did not explicitly urge a vote for Rossi or against Murray.
Other anonymously funded groups that bought ads in Washington include Business Institute for Political Analysis, Coalition to Protect Seniors, Enterprise Freedom Action Committee and the Faith Family Freedom Fund.
Citizens for Strength and Security Action Fund, also known as CSS Action Fund, spent more on behalf of Murray than any other anonymously funded group. It reported $640,000 for electioneering in the Murray-Rossi race.
According to the Sunlight Foundation, little is known about CSS except that it shares an address with eight political groups that support Democratic candidates.
Kyung Song: 202-662-7455 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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