Next Tuesday will cap the first full national election cycle in which the Supreme Court has freed corporations to spend at will and without limit on condition they operate independently.
And these so-called Super PACS — drawn from the traditional PAC, or political action committee — are playing a significant role in targeting Cape Ann voters, where they have given Republican challenger Richard Tisei a $1.4 million advantage in his campaign to wrest the 6th District congressional seat away from eight-term Democratic incumbent John Tierney, according to public disclosures.
With spending nationally by these Super PACs or “527s” — named for the section of the Internal Revenue Service Code that covers them — edging toward the $1 billion mark nationally — a relatively small scale example of the genre of political advertising is Strong Economy for Massachusetts Inc., and its advertising targeting Tierney is representative of the graphic nature of the messages showing up on TV and in mailboxes.
But few voters may know that the little corporation for a “strong economy” was organized by Peter Torkildsen — the last Republican to hold a Massachusetts seat in Congress, and the one from whom Tierney took the House seat in 1996. Torkildsen’s role in the “Strong Economy” corporation is documented on the Massachusetts secretary of state’s corporations website.
In one recent piece of shiny folded mass mail, Torkildsen’s 527 seems to be accusing Tierney of “Sports Gambling,” “Tax Fraud” and “Criminal Enterprise,” as part of nefarious story that is beginning to “unravel” like the baseball whose cover symbolically is coming off.
A second piece in the same folded format rivets sadness, anger and attention with a photo of the U.S. consulate in Benghazzi, Libya, in flames on last Sept. 11, the night the ambassador and three staff were slain in an event of murky motives that make for domestic political exploitation.