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Political ads flooding Virginia
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Date published: 9/30/2012
"What a negative ad can do is get those people who already don't like a politician to dislike him more. Maybe they'll volunteer, maybe they'll donate money, or maybe they'll turn out to vote we live in very partisan times, and candidates from both parties have decided that negative ads are the best way to reach voters."
The independent groups have less impetus than the candidates themselves to ensure that ads are fair, Farnsworth said.
"If you're a candidate and you run an ad that's false, the consequences to your campaign are much larger than if you're a third-party shadow organization doing the same thing," he said.
Farnsworth thinks there should be more requirements for outside groups to disclose their donors, and to more prominently display their names in their advertisements.
"It seems to me what the Supreme Court has done has given us the worst of both worlds," Farnsworth said. "If you allow huge amounts of money into politics like this, it really undermines the health of the democracy to allow virtually unlimited donations into politics without a disclosure mechanism to let people know who's spending how much, who's donating how much. If 2012 teaches us anything about campaign finance, it's that the U.S. is in great need of transparency in terms of who is raising money and who is spending money for what purpose."
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028
To check the accuracy of political ads, look at some fact-checking organizations:
To look into more independent-expenditure groups' campaign finance, check the Center for Responsive Politics and VPAP: