Only a listener with the IQ of a potted plant could conclude negative ads about a political candidate around election time are not electioneering activities designed to get people to vote for a certain candidate.
But that is the claim by some wealthy special interest groups that run these nasty ads. Case in point is the Alliance for Choices in Education, a group that promotes the expansion of Milwaukee's school voucher - or school choice - program that uses more than $100 million in state tax dollars to send about 17,000 children to private and religious schools.
On page 5 of a document the alliance filed with the State Elections Board in connection with a complaint against one of its cohorts, All Children Matter, the alliance says it did not give $90,00 to All Children Matter last fall "for the purpose of influencing Wisconsin elections. Rather, it gave money for the purpose of issue advocacy."
But the advocacy never mentioned the groups' issue - school choice.
All Children Matter is before the board amid allegations of campaign finance law violations and money laundering because of a statement in one of its fliers that claimed a Democratic state senate candidate supported higher taxes. The group also used tax issues to attack candidates in other legislative races.
In the governor's race, three of the group's television "issue ads" during last fall's election hammered Democratic Governor Jim Doyle's ethics and the timing of campaign contributions he received from people awarded state contracts. Here are some of the statements from one of those ads: "It seems everything's for sale in Madison, especially under Governor Doyle.... I think that Governor Doyle is definitely corrupted by the money.... Governor Doyle's not running a clean government."
Be that as it may, where exactly is the advocacy for school choice?