“There’s been all this critique of super PACs — ‘there’s too much coordination, they’re just arms of the campaigns,’” said David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, which opposes restrictions on political spending. “In a lot of cases, these independent groups do things the campaigns don’t want them to do. They’re often seen as loose cannons and there isn’t even a lot of gratitude for what they’re doing.”

Keating, a former executive director of the Club for Growth, said the greatest threat to campaigns and party committees might not come from a heavily funded super PAC like the Ricketts outfit.

“There could also be some small group that’s really at the fringes, left or right, and they decide to run something that’s way out there — something that makes a Willie Horton ad seem tame,” Keating said. “It may only be a small buy, but in the echo chamber of the cable shows, this ad buy that might be trivial or insignificant suddenly embeds itself into the nation’s consciousness.”…

Paul Begala, the veteran Democratic operative working with Priorities USA, said the simple reality is “candidates and campaigns are no longer masters of their own fate — even their own messaging, on their own side of the fight.”