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‘Dark money’ opponent focuses on W.Va. race

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Having made his fortune as creator of the online gaming company Kongregate, Jim Greer is trying to take a stand against the inundation of “dark money” political attack ads that he believes are taking over elections across the U.S.

Greer founded CounterPAC, a new group he thinks has a simple plan for countering the millions of dollars these groups are spending to affect the outcome of Congressional elections across the country.

“This is an experiment, really,” he said Thursday. “This is a tough issue, but I think it’s a fundamental one, and it’s clear it’s moving in the wrong direction.”

On Thursday, CounterPAC bought full-page ads in the Charleston Gazette and Charleston Daily Mail, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Anchorage Daily News, encouraging candidates in two U.S. Senate and one congressional race — West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District — to sign a pledge vowing to reject dark money spent on their behalves.

Greer said the proposal is simple: Anytime a group that does not disclose contributors buys ads attacking the candidate’s opponent, the candidate’s campaign will contribute an amount equal to 50 percent of the ad cost to a charity selected by the opponent.

“We’re imposing, though a private contract with the candidates, a fine for dark money ads,” he said.

Greer said the idea sprung from the 2012 U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, where Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren signed a similar pledge, which he said proved effective in preventing outside money from influencing that election.

 Greer said CounterPAC selected the 3rd District race between Rep. Nick Joe Rahall, W.Va., and state Sen. Evan Jenkins, R-Cabell, because of the large amounts of outside money being poured into a race in a small, rural district lacking major media markets.

“It stood out to us as a race that was getting an outsized amount of attention from both sides,” Greer said of expenditures by groups including the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity and by the House Majority PAC…

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