More Political Front Group Ads Coming, Right Up to Election Day

Get ready for an uptick in nasty "issue advocacy" advertisements in battleground states. The New York Times notes that wealthy right-wing activist Howard Rich recently mailed menacing letters to liberal contributors that read, "We are monitoring all reports of a wide variety of leftist organizations. ... Should any of these organizations be found to be engaged in illegal or questionable activity, it is our intent to publicize your involvement with those activities." Rich acknowledged that "he had read a letter that a pro-Democratic group called Accountable America," which is run by MoveOn's Tom Matzzie, "sent during the summer, which offered a $100,000 reward for information about 'unlawful conduct by business-oriented or conservative' nonprofit groups. ... [B]oth letters were intended to scare off the other side's Section 527 activities -- the lightly regulated money that swamped the 2004 election. ... This year, such spending is down by $104 million compared with 2004, according to Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group. But he pointed out that a recent Supreme Court ruling will permit 527 money to be spent in the final days of the campaign this year, unlike 2004. 'If you were to write a dictionary definition for the 527s, first and foremost the purpose is to be disruptive,' Mr. Tracey said. 'Being allowed to run ads at the end of the campaign is most disruptive.'"