Should Senate Candidates Be Offering Free Scripts to Super PACs?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 28 2014 10:59 AM

Should Senate Candidates Be Offering Free Scripts to Super PACs?

467299169-senator-jeanne-shaheen-d-nh-speaks-during-a-press
Jeanne Shaheen unscripted.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

First there was "the b-roll scam," the delightful trend of campaigns tossing free, boring video of their candidates onto the Internet just in case some super PAC needed it—and didn't want to, you know, coordinate with a campaign. Now there's the "message" alley-oop—a wonderful little trick in which a campaign puts together a kit in case anyone wants to make an ad out of it. (Reader: Please suggest a better, catchall name for this.)

All credit to the aggressive NRSC and New Hampshire Republicans, who are trying to make it impossible for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to demand a "people's pledge" (no outside spending from PACs) from carpetbagging Senate candidate Scott Brown. Last week they went all Donald Sutherland and screamed at Shaheen for hosting a "message" page on her site. It consisted of boilerplate, words taken from a theoretical campaign ad ("More attack ads. Paid for by the Koch Brothers and their special interest money.") and a Dropbox link to photos of the senator. Republicans were shocked, shocked:

New Hampshire GOP Chairman Jennifer Horn likened the message “script” for a future attack ad paid for by a super PAC.

“Jeanne Shaheen has spent months attacking outside money, but now she is sending thinly veiled smoke signals to Harry Reid begging for help from his outside money SuperPAC. This is another example of the shameless hypocrisy that Granite Staters have unfortunately come to expect from dishonest Washington politicians like Jeanne Shaheen,” said Horn in a statement. “Additionally, Shaheen’s blatant attempt to coordinate with an outside SuperPAC is potentially illegal and raises serious ethical questions about her campaign.”
Shaheen’s camp responded Thursday afternoon, reiterating its position that third party advertising could be eliminated from the campaign if Brown would sign a ‘people’s pledge.’
Advertisement

It's a classic attack-the-strength move; Brown, not Shaheen, has been the beneficiary of millions of dollars of third-party ads attacking Obamacare. Shaheen wants to tell voters that those AFP ads popping up every week are "paid for by the Koch brothers"? Fine—we'll shame her for wanting cover fire. The issue is downgraded to a "Democrats say, but Republicans argue" mish-mash. It's working well enough in New Hampshire that the NRSC is now shaming Montana Sen. John Walsh for hosting a standard-issue fact-check page on his site, with facts about how much opponent Steve Daines is worth ($9.19 million, the swine!) and what he's voted for. It's an attempt to "subvert campaign finance laws," tweets NRSC spox Brad Dayspring, as the New Hampshire GOP puts together an FEC complaint against Shaheen. The message: Good luck taking the high road on super PACs now. Also, enjoy this six-figure ad buy from American Crossroads.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.