THE%2030%20SECOND%20CANDIDATE Q_AND_A
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  2 What do you make of the phenomenon of outside interest groups this year putting on ads to influence elections?  
JEFF GREENFIELD replies:

In the Santa Barbara special Congressional election this year to fill Walter Capps' seat, both candidates were exorcised by the fact that outside groups came in and dumped a lot of money in these so-called independent expenditure ads, which are in all but name political commercials and therefore kind of took the campaign away.

You're in this bizarre situation where thanks to a series of court rulings, you can limit what a candidate raises, but interest groups are absolutely unlimited--it's considered a first amendment right. So, a candidate can maybe raise a million dollars, let's say, to say what he or she wants to say. Then you're going to find that the National Widget Association or Citizens for a Cleaner Environment or whoever it is are going to spend whatever they want on that race and in effect, take it over.

I don't, by the way, think there's any solution to this as long as the court ruling stands because I don't know how you can legislate it.
  Jeff Greenfield
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