Dirty politics has been around since Thomas Jefferson's oppo researchers went after Alexander Hamilton's mistress in 1800, but there's more money in it these days. With campaign expenditures hitting record levels—nearly $1.2 billion was spent in 2004, much of it channeled through shadowy independent-expenditure groups, 527 committees, and the like—those schooled in politics' darker arts are cashing in like never before. And for the off years, there's always corporate marketing and "grassroots lobbying," which increasingly employ the tricks of the campaign trade. Here are some key players from years past, and their current allegiances.
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