Joe Ricketts's PAC is 'ending spending' by spending a lot

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Joe Ricketts, father of Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, reveals how much money influence costs.
  • Nati Harnik/AP Photos
  • Joe Ricketts, father of Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, reveals how much money influence costs.
The other day I got e-mail from a southern PR firm touting a $1.3 million ad buy by the Ending Spending Action Fund, a conservative PAC founded four years ago by Joe Ricketts, bankroller of the local news service DNAInfo and father of Tom Ricketts, who controls the Chicago Cubs.

Joe Ricketts is a big-time player in conservative politics. Ending Spending describes itself as a nonpartisan group that "proudly supports candidates regardless of party affiliation who favor enhancing free enterprise, reducing the size of government, and balancing our nation's budget." This latest ad buy is an investment in one race only: the squeaky-tight Senate race in Georgia between Michelle Nunn, the Democrat, and Republican David Perdue.

The ads deride Nunn as a "senator for President Obama, not Georgia," but say nothing about her presumably wanton spending proclivities. You can see the ads here and here and here.

What puzzles me is the news release itself. It mentions that the Ending Spending ad buy comes on the heels of a $2 million ad buy in Georgia ten days earlier, leaving us with no doubt that the PAC is determined to get its way in that state. But does calling attention to Ending Spending's spending serve the client? Why does Joe Ricketts want to send the message to Georgia voters that we're spending millions of dollars in your state to get inside your heads?

The publicist who sent me the e-mail didn't want to comment on its implications. But they seem apparent. Ending Spending not only wants to influence elections but to call attention to its influence. Is this a demonstration of the vanity of big money? Perhaps a rich man like Ricketts believes that when someone older and wiser such as himself tells people how to think, the response will be obedience and gratitude.

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