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Thursday, March 11, 2004

"Americans for Job Security" Uses Big Money to Win Elections
The Texas Observer has an in-depth story here that highlights just how fat cats use campaign dollars to ensure that their favorite sons wind up in office.

Tommy Merrit was a moderate Republican from Texas. An apparent man of principle, he had voted with the interests of his district instead of following the directions of Tom Delay when it came to whether or not to try to rig Texas elections to ensure that more Republicans would win.

Americans for Job Security decided that they didn't like Tommy Merritt. The Observer describes it like this:

"The affable East Texas Republican was run over this year by one of the nation's most vicious campaign hit teams, a secret outfit whose reach spreads all over the American political system. It specializes in attempted assassination of political careers under the guise of issue education. Apparently, one sure way to escape the torrent of negative attacks it can bankroll is to avoid crossing George W. Bush and a select group of Texas Republicans."

Nobody knows exactly who American for Job Security is. They have reportedly spent $26 million dollars to influence elections. It's not clear if this comes from one person, or several. David Carney, a political "consultant" with ties to George Bush Senior and current Texas Governor Perry seems to have a lot to do with them.

The group filled the airwaves with radio ads attacking Merrit. They got the result they wanted. Merrit lost his next election to a more conservative Republican.

The ethics viewpoint of campaign finance reform would find nothing wrong with this picture. There is no evidence that AFJ or David Carney had any agreement with Merrit's opponent to give them any special favors if he won. But looking at it from an elections viewpoint, it is deeply disturbing that a few secret players can take someone they don't like out of office much like mafia hit men taking out storekeepers who won't pay protection money. They get to have their favored candidate in office and as the Observer notes they also sent "clear signal to Texas GOP moderates everywhere about just who was in charge." If the rest of us want to be in charge, we need to put an end to this sort of thing.

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