Setting the disclosure record straight

SETTING THE DISCLOSURE RECORD STRAIGHT…. One of the key underlying factors in the controversy over “independent” right-wing groups buying the 2010 elections is the simple matter of disclosure. Even the dispute over the role of foreign funds comes down to the fact that we’re dealing with massive amounts of undisclosed money. Voters see the campaign-changing attack ads, but are not allowed to know who’s paying for the message.

The right has a new response to this: the other side does the same thing, so the complaints amount to hypocrisy. To hear conservatives tell it, there are labor unions and progressive organizations like MoveOn.org doing the same thing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is doing — running ads targeting candidates thanks to secret donations.

The flaw in the argument: it’s not true.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough made the claim this morning, but to his credit, retracted it on the air. Karl Rove and other Fox News personalities have made the same argument, and wouldn’t you know it, they’ve been reluctant to correct their mistake.

Greg Sargent sets the record straight today, noting that those drawing the parallel are “just flat out lying.”

Under Federal law, unions disclose far more about their funding than other political groups do, and it just so happens that MoveOn’s ads are funded by a Federal political committee that has to comply with the same disclosure requirements that candidate and party committees do.

Rove specifically claimed on the air that the National Resources Defense Council, the League of Conservation Voters, the Center for American Progress, and MoveOn are engaged in the midterms, but “do not report their donors.”

But the claim about MoveOn is wrong, and none of the other groups he mentioned are running campaign ads at all.

Either Rove has no idea what he’s talking about — which is unlikely, given that he helped create and fund some secretive campaign operations this year — or he’s shamelessly lying on national television.

Greg added that the Fox News host made no effort to challenge Rove’s falsehoods, and unlike Scarborough, there’s been no retraction. “[I]t would be nice if someone on Fox or wherever else at least tried to hold these folks to even a minimum standard of accuracy or honesty,” Greg concluded.

It would, indeed.