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Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Two Washington-based interest groups are airing competing TV ads in the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race. The real sponsors of the ads remain shrouded in secrecy.

The Emergency Committee for Israel and a group called “J Street” are duking it out over candidate Joe Sestak’s record on Israel. They’re clearly campaign ads aimed at Pennsylvania voters, but recent Supreme Court decisions on election law allow the groups to claim they’re just issue advocates. So they don’t have to disclose who’s funding their messages, or how much the groups are spending – as a candidate’s campaign committee would.

Melanie Sloan is director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

“The public would be far better off if we knew who was really behind an ad because we would be able to weigh the ad more clearly. We would be able to judge its credibility if we really knew who was behind the ad.”

Sloan says as the U.S. Senate race heats up, expects millions more to be spent on the race from committees that shield their donors from public view.

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