The Koch Brothers’ first media attacking Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act, are remarkably lacking in design quality and fact.
The two main images are repetitive and unclear. The text tries to tell us that politicians are coming to take our money, yet the handsome whiskery gentleman on the address side does not clearly reinforce that message. Whose money is that in his hand? Where did that money come from? Is he putting that money in his pocket or taking it out to buy that notepad and that really big Mac screen on the counter in front of him? No one can tell: it’s just a static image with no clear direction.
The larger graphic on the back tries to make clearer some sort of transaction with some guy cufflinked up as Uncle Sam. But is Uncle Sam taking that wallet or handing it back? Is the headless suit model a voter? If so, is he losing his money to Uncle Sam or getting Democracy Credits back from Uncle Sam to spend as he sees fit? Or might blue-tied torso be a political candidate? If so, is he getting a handout from Uncle Sam, or is Uncle Sam actually taking away his wallet full of corrupting campaign cash from special interests like the Koch Brothers? And what is Uncle Sam doing here, anyway? The Anti-Corruption Act is a state measure, not some federal law, right?
Bonus critique: the postcard is gender-biased, depicting all men. Aren’t women affected by the Anti-Corruption Act?
Americans for Prosperity doesn’t write any more clearly than it designs. The card indicts itself, saying Initiated Measure 22 means “more politics as usual—more TV ads, more postcards, and more robocalls….” Defeat22.com sniffs dismissively at campaign mailers… with a campaign mailer. Hilarious.
Similarly contradictory is the first line of their Web content:
Politically-connected special interest groups are up to no good [Americans for Prosperity, Defeat22.com, downloaded 2016.07.11].
Here, for one brief, shining moment, the Koch Brothers actually tell the truth: Defeat22.com’s backers are politically connected, they are special interest groups, and they are up to no good.
The rest of their text is hogwash. Let’s do the line-by-line:
Measure 22 will allow big spending politicians to take millions of our taxpayer dollars and send it to political campaigns:
The Anti-Corruption Act actually limits campaign spending. To participate in small-donor public financing, “big spending politicians” have to limit the size of donations they take ($250 cap for Legislative candidates; $500 cap for statewide candidates). No candidate gets “millions” from the Anti-Corruption Act; IM 22’s “Democracy Credits” are limited to $700K for gubernatorial candidates, $175K for candidates for attorney general, $75K for Secretary of State and Public Utilities Commissioner, $50K for treasurer, $25K for auditor, and $15K for legislators and Commissioner of School and Public Lands.
- Forcing us to fund political TV ads and intrusive automated calls
The Anti-Corruption Act forces no one to fund political advertising. Citizens volunteer to participate in the Democracy Credits program. Citizens can give their two $50 Democracy Credits to the candidate or candidates of their choice, or they can leave that money on the shelf.
- Funding even more wasteful government spending
What waste? Arguably, the Anti-Corruption Act means candidates spend less money overall, which means (following the Kochs’ thesis here that political ads are bad) less waste of our time with political ads and phone calls. The Anti-Corruption Act even prevents waste within campaigns: participating candidates can’t convert Democracy Credits to personal use the way they can currently convert campaign funds; they must spend the Democracy Credits on legitimate campaign expenses or give the money back.
- Taking away tax dollars from funding our roads, bridges, and schools
The Anti-Corruption Act does not mandate any reduction in the budgets for roads, bridges, or schools.
- Forces you to add your name to a government database
Now the Kochs are just making stuff up. You don’t have to add your name to a government database unless you are a lobbyist. The lobbyist database already exists; IM 22 simply makes it more transparent and informative. IM 22 does create a secure online system for assigning and possibly issuing Democracy Credits to voters, but that system would only work with data already available to the public in the voter registration list.
- Opens you to harassment for making voluntary donations to charitable causes.
Here the Kochs pile lie upon lie to attack Section 16(2)(e) of the Anti-Corruption Act. This provision mandates that anyone who donates to an organization to fund political communications must give that organization full name, address, and employer so that organization can fulfill new campaign finance reporting guidelines. Nothing in Section(2)(e) deals with “charitable” donations, and nothing in IM 22 says those donors will be contacted, much less harassed, by the new state ethics commission; it only makes public how much those organizations spend to influence elections and public policy… which is the last thing the Kochs and other special interests want.
Measure 22 is another government money grab to fund political campaigns using your tax dollars.
IM 22 is the opposite of a “government money grab”: it hands money back to voters and says, “Here, you decide how you want to spend your tax dollars. If you want to use it to fund a candidate or two who represents your values and will do a good job in office, go for it. If you want to leave that money in the kitty for next election or for use in roads and schools, that’s your choice.” IM 22 recognizes that these are your tax dollars and gives you more say in how your tax dollars are spent.
Ben Lee of the South Dakota branch of Americans for Prosperity is getting who-knows-how-much money from the Koch Brothers to pump out this low-quality propaganda. I’m getting no special-interest dollars to tell you the truth. The Kochs and other special interests oppose the Anti-Corruption Act because they oppose you. They don’t want you taking away their secret, big-money influence over how your tax dollars are spent.
And if the Kochs are anti-Anti-Corruption… well, logic says two antis make a pro… and in South Dakota there are plenty of special interests who are pros at corruption.