Michael Shear's Thursday morning "Caucus" post was titled "Flood of Campaign Cash Becomes the Issue." And how did it exactly "become the issue"? Because the Times, Barack Obama, and the Democratic Congress wants it that way.
Shear wondered why people have failed to heed the Democratic president's wise warnings, which were surely untainted by partisan considerations.
In January, during his first State of the Union address, President Obama predicted that a U.S. Supreme Court decision would "open the floodgates" of money into campaigns. He warned against elections that are "bankrolled" by powerful interests.
Now that flood of cash has arrived, mostly into new organizations that are working on behalf of Mr. Obama's adversaries and are not required to disclose their donors. The money is helping Republican candidates take advantage of a wave of anger and dissatisfaction across the country.
But in the last weeks of the campaign, the money itself is becoming the story as Democrats seek to shine light on where it comes from and Republicans defend the election-year spending as a constitutionally protected form of speech.
Democrats from the president on down have stepped up their dire warnings about the influence of what they describe as corporate money. And they are increasingly raising the specter of conservative groups soliciting money from foreign contributions.
Foreign companies are prohibited from donating to American political campaigns, but the Times and other outlets have jumped on a report from the left-wing Center for American Progress alleging that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is breaking the law by getting dues from foreign companies and mingling the money with its campaign advertising fund. There's no evidence this is happening.
Now, as my colleague, Eric Lichtblau, reports this morning, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have begun a a counter-offensive, accusing Democrats of attempting to "chill" the legitimate First Amendment rights of interests that are supporting Republicans. And they are accusing officials to Mr. Obama of improperly using the Internal Revenue Service to audit the conservative groups.
He left the impression of tainted GOP funding:
With so many Republican candidates being financed by the largely unregulated groups, the stakes are high. Democrats are hoping to taint the candidates with the stain of ill-gotten cash - much of which is hard to trace by the media and independent groups. Republicans are defending their practices even as they use the cash to hammer Democrats with negative ads.
But fear not, there's still hope for the Democrats, if they can just survive this election cycle.
If Democrats keep control of the House and Senate, even by a hair, the chairmen of key committees could be well positioned to unleash a barrage of investigations into the source of the donations to a series of well-financed conservative groups.
Whatever happens in Congress, concern over the fundraising is likely to be kept alive by the White House and Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly discouraged his Democratic allies from setting up the kind of disclosure-free organizations that have benefitted the Republicans this year.
We eagerly await the Times' investigation of the possible foreign-funded campaign activities of SEIU, the Service Employees International Union (emphasis added, hat tip Lachlan Markay at NewsBusters), which is also going gangbusters in raising money and issuing campaign ads this election cycle.