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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Super PACs on the rise and Florida is an early target for attack ads



Hard-hitting political ads against President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Allen West are popping up across Florida in a scramble to define the message of the 2012 elections, still 16 months away.

But the radio and TV attacks — which focus on jobs, Medicare and the federal debt — are not paid by the candidates' opponents or the Democratic and Republican parties.

They are launched by so-called independent expenditure groups that are forming at remarkable speed, raising tens of millions of dollars and fundamentally altering political campaigns.

And you may never know who those contributors are — or their motivations — due to a provision of law that is increasingly exploited by Republican-aligned groups and, now, Democrats.

Through they decried the practice last election — "A problem for democracy," Obama said in October — Democrats are racing to create their own groups, trying to prevent a further erosion of power in Washington.

If the 2010 midterm elections seemed a busy time, brace yourself. (story here) Below, examples of the ads.



[Last modified: Saturday, July 23, 2011 3:45pm]


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