A recent court ruling resulted in a flood of campaign spending by a very small group of ultra rich people into our elections and the latest example could be a Super PAC bankrolled by Joe Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade. A group of conservatives is looking into a $10 million campaign to highlight President Obama’s connection to Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. according to the New York Times.
The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.
“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics.
While I think this particular campaign would be rather ineffective at swaying voters this election, its impact going forward could be much more important.
I often fault Obama for not going after those in the financial industry for wrongdoing; but if people in the financial industry make it clear they will spend millions on a smear campaign against anyone they dislike, it is unlikely our system will produce better candidates willing to take on the industry.
It is not just a question of will these ads convince regular Americans to distrust Obama, it is a question of will this type of spending convince good people to not get into politics in the first place. We are a country in desperate need of some public campaign finance reform.
UPDATE: apparently Mr. Ricketts has reconsidered.