Let The Voter Beware

The following is an op-ed piece that has been distributed by The Patriot Project to newspapers in districts where Economic Freedom Fund is attacking candidates.

"You can grow up to be anything you want to be, even President of the United States." Generations of American mothers and fathers have used this simple summary of the American dream to encourage children to finish their vegetables, and work hard in school.

America is the land of opportunity, a place where one's standing at birth is not a final determination of where one ends the journey. We have had Presidents who grew up in one-stop-light towns, sports heroes who have risen from the inner city, and Hollywood stars who have slept in cars while waiting for their big breaks. Because these individuals achieve the 'American Dream', American children grow up believing anything is possible.

For countless men and women running for elected office this fall, their dreams will be dashed not due to a lack of effort, courage or skill, but because of a particular political poison which has spread during the last six years - the political front group.

Front groups have been part of American politics for years - private donors fund a group with a fancy name to attack a politician who they don't agree with. While it is their right to use their money to exercise their right to free speech, the average citizen also has a right (and some would say a duty) to know the full story behind these front groups, their claims, and their motives.

Too often, a front group with a rather innocent sounding name like Veterans for Truth or the Economic Freedom Fund is actually a rather malicious attack campaign that does not stand for what its innocent name proclaims, but instead spreads lies about a distinguished American civil servant. Even though political strategists view this as standard operating procedure, voters are still the unwitting victims led astray by these lies.

Today, in the era of the 24-hour news cycle and an incredible wealth of willing donors, front groups are far richer, far more powerful, far more prevalent and far more capable of distorting democracy than ever before.

One that stands out as an example, is the "Economic Freedom Fund," a 527 attack group run out of a law office in Sacramento, California.

Upon its founding this summer, the Economic Freedom Fund listed just one donor, Bob Perry of Houston, Texas. Mr. Perry has donated $5,000,000 since mid August. The organization's mission is to attack candidates across the country with lies disguised as 'economic issues.' It's not pretty to see. It's even harder to watch good men and women endure the attacks. For example, the Economic Freedom Fund paid for ads in Georgia defaming Jim Marshall an American hero and Vietnam veteran. America is no longer the land of one person, one vote; but rather it is the land of one person, one five million dollar donation, and one misled voting public.

It is important to remember that freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our democracy, and in that spirit these groups should not be silenced. However, voters have a right and a duty to know what is the truth and what is fabrication about their politicians and candidates. In other words, the answer is not regulation but participation.

Every voter must take a skeptical view of claims we see and read. "Economic Freedom Fund" has nothing to do with economics or freedom, and quite a bit to do with spreading lies to create doubt about truly admirable candidates. As a result, voters are distracted from their personal interests and the real issues facing our country.

As November 7th approaches, voters must remember that front groups are never what they seem at first glance. They are the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing. If their slanderous attacks make voters stop and doubt a candidate, they win. But on the flipside, if voters look behind the front and beyond the tried-and-true political strategy, the country as a whole will win.