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The Most Cynical Political Ploy of 2014

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Reprinted from The Nation


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The American Future Fund is an enthusiastically conservative organization that each election season fills the airwaves with ads hailing right-wing causes and socially conservative Republican candidates, while ripping Democratic officials and contenders.

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But, this fall, the dark-money group is also jumping into battleground states with social-media campaigns hailing third-party candidates, legalization of marijuana and "our progressive values."

Confused? Don't be. In close races, those third-party candidates might just pull a few votes away from Democratic contenders, who are specifically attacked in the ads. Yes, that's playing the margins. But when money is no object, every strategy gets tried.

Welcome to the brave new world of hyper-cynical, win-at-any-cost, big-money politics.

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This is how it works.

The American Future Fund explains that it "operates as a 501(c)(4) and was formed to provide Americans with a conservative and free market viewpoint to have a mechanism to communicate and advocate on the issues that most interest and concern them."

Practically, what that means is that, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center's FactCheck.org project, "AFF spent just under $24.5 million on independent expenditures during the 2012 election cycle -- nearly all of it (about $20.8 million) in support of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and against President Obama."

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the group "received more than 92 percent of its 2012 revenues from two organizations connected to Charles and David Koch." This year, one of the primary Koch-backed groups says it is moving money elsewhere; but the American Future Fund remains flush with cash.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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