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Subvertizers? Name The New Breed Of Political Group

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Subvertizers? Name The New Breed Of Political Group

Politics

Subvertizers? Name The New Breed Of Political Group

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

What's in a name? That's what Andrea Seabrook asked you, asked us, whatever, last week. She and NPR's Peter Overby are tracking the corporate money in politics this election season. They've stumbled upon a problem. What do you call this new breed of political group that does not have to disclose its funders? They put the question to you. Here are some answers.

ANDREA SEABROOK: All sorts of jargon already exist for specific kinds of political campaigners. Party committees are groups like the Democratic National Committee. Candidate committees are, you know, Friends of Joe Smith or Jane Doe for Congress. We generally use the term special interests to describe a group with one industry or cause at its core, like the National Manufacturers Association or the Sierra Club.

PETER OVERBY: But what about this relatively new breed of political funders, the groups that are organized as nonprofit organizations under the tax code and therefore can take donations of any size and keep the donors' names secret?

SEABROOK: In our series on the hidden money in politics this season, Peter Overby and I have been unhappy with every title out there. Third-party groups is misleading - they're almost all either pro-Republican or pro-Democrat, which is why calling them independent groups misleading too.

OVERBY: But when Andrea asked you, we got hundreds of responses and some really great ideas.

SEABROOK: Walter Barnes writes...

OVERBY: Anonymous Self-Interest Group. That clearly indicates that they have a motive other than education and that the result of relying on their information will benefit them, probably at the expense of others.

SEABROOK: Louella Browning wrote to say whatever we call them, we should include the word anonymous. She says...

OVERBY: My side, their side, it doesn't matter to me. If they don't disclose their funding sources, I at least want to know that they're hiding.

SEABROOK: Kaati Ross came up with...

OVERBY: Unidentified Funding Organizations. UFOs.

SEABROOK: And you came up with some great new words like...

OVERBY: Wedge Funds, Subvertizers, Surrogators.

SEABROOK: And my favorite, from Phil Mayall...

OVERBY: Camouflobbyists.

SEABROOK: And about a dozen of you came up with...

OVERBY: Political Interest Groups, or P-I-Gs.

SEABROOK: There are so many great ones, we couldn't decide. So we've put it back to you. Go to npr.org and you can vote on your favorite. Maybe you'll go with Erik Espinoza, who writes...

OVERBY: Since these organizations are meant to disguise donors and attack opposing candidates, the only suitable name would be Cloak and Dagger Organizations.

SEABROOK: Or maybe, like Richard Brubaker, you won't vote at all. He calls attack ads...

OVERBY: A big waste of time and money. Everybody I know hits the mute button.

SEABROOK: Andrea Seabrook.

OVERBY: And Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

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