Dear Virginia voters,
● VA-Gov: The Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity just launched its first TV ad attacking Democrat Ralph Northam and says it plans to spend $1 million to $2 million over a three-week period to air it. The spot accuses Northam of “miss[ing] nearly 60 percent of meetings for a board that could have prevented cronyism and corruption. Instead, he let a fake Chinese company with a false address and phony website take $1.4 million of our money.”
That’s a reference to a 2014 scandal at an entity called the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, which has been targeted for an overhaul following a highly critical audit. As the Washington Post explains, though, Northam was one of 24 board members, and those members were “not directly involved in grant decisions”; rather, “grants were recommended by staff and approved by the governor.” Those kinds of distinctions, however, mean precious little in the face of seven-figure ad buys.
Brings up what is maybe the biggest question to me: how do ads like these–given free rein by SCOTUS’s Citizens United decision–actually affect voters? Is there a sort of brainwashing component here? Can the repetition of an ad like this–the huge amounts of money the Kochs can supply for buying TV ad time predetermine the repetition--actively change the thinking of voters?
I don’t know. For one thing, I believe I’m fairly immune to TV ads of any kind and in fact love making fierce fun of them. (“Ask your doctor if Zai6tsoiuyf is right for you…”)
For another thing, we who live in deeply colored states are not usually afflicted with political ads like these. Why would the Kochs waste their money trying to take over my brain? I’m sure they target districts shading purple.
I wish an organization having the resources to study this post-Citizens United country would do it. I really want to know.
P.S. Citizens United permitted “pro bono” groups to voice, i.e., produce polished TV ads, their “social” concerns. Or so I thought. I thought these groups weren’t permitted to produce and broadcast TV ads for or against a candidate.