It's no secret that yours truly has been vocally opposed to what is known as "astroturf" - shadowy groups with obscure funding sources and questionable political agendas. Such groups played major roles in GOP primaries in 2006 and 2008, targeting legislators who were questioning of outgoing Governor Mark Sanford's agenda, just as they were instrumental in the upset defeat of then-Governor David Beasley in 1998.
This year's target of these groups: GOP Attorney General candidate Leighton Lord.
Lord was been attacked by the American Future Fund, an out-of-state political group, over his role in the negotiations which brought the Boeing plant to North Charleston via their website - www.BoeingBailout.com. Lord went on offense today, challenging the group publicly:
The ads, paid for by the American Future Fund, purposely misrepresent the Boeing investment, the process that brought Boeing to South Carolina, and the motives of those involved in creating the Boeing deal. These ads have also gone so far as to malign Lord for his role as Boeing’s attorney. They attempt to divide the state by region pitting one against the other, and not surprisingly they are the product of a Washington, DC special interest attack group that has no interest in South Carolina’s prosperity.
“Today, I seek to expose this group and compel them to step forward and be transparent in their agenda. Answer these questions, and accept this challenge if you truly have any interest in South Carolina and her future. Who is the American Future Fund? Who are your members, donors, and leaders and are they South Carolinians? What is your real interest in attacking Boeing’s investment in South Carolina? Why do you choose to misrepresent its impact on our state?,” asked Lord
Following a press conference, the website was pulled offline, suggesting Lord's response generated more heat than the out-of-state group was willing to bear.
These tactics have long been employed by those aligned with Sanford, so it certainly is worth asking if some of these players are loose in the Attorney General's race. If they are, then the next question is why they're involved in this race.
South Carolina faces plenty of challenges, but they're not going to be solved by high-dollar attack campaigns by out-of-state groups with no personal stake in the problems at hand. Voters should not be fooled by these kinds of tactics.