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Three lessons of Jeremiah Wright plan against Obama

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Joe Ricketts, the founder of online brokerage TD Ameritrade and the billionaire benefactor of conservative super PAC Ending Spending Action Fund, speaks in Omaha, Neb., in this photo taken Feb. 14.

Nati Hamik/AP

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2. Beware, political neophytes

The lesson for Joe Ricketts – the founder of TD Ameritrade and the super PAC Ending Spending Action Fund – is that politics can be dangerous to one’s reputation. Before the Jeremiah Wright flap, Mr. Ricketts was unknown to most Americans. Now, anyone paying attention to the campaign has seen his name splashed all over the media in connection with the controversial proposal to attack Obama via his former pastor.

The ability to spend unlimited sums of money on behalf of a political campaign was sanctioned in 2010 by the US Supreme Court. Suddenly, wealthy people with a taste for politics can jump in with big piles of cash to try to influence discourse. But sometimes things can go awry. Remember Foster Friess? He was Rick Santorum’s big outside backer, who put his foot in his mouth when he joked on TV about birth control as “Bayer aspirin between the knees.”  

Ricketts, whose family also owns the Chicago Cubs, wasn’t even in the room when Strategic Perception made its proposal, said Brian Baker, president of the Ending Spending Action Fund, speaking Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“The world is full of bad ideas. This is one of them,” Mr. Baker said. “This wasn’t a proposal we requested at all. We never funded it…. We had nothing to do with the suggestion of Reverend Wright.”

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