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writing for godot

Rise of the (Super) PAC

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Written by Clint Hulsey   
Monday, 08 August 2011 11:25
In the first 6 months of 2011, Super-PACs have raised 26 million dollars. Super-PACs are Political Action Committees with slightly different rules. Unlike PACs, they can take in unlimited corporate or union donations anonymously. However, unlike traditional PACs, candidates can not be directly connected to them. There are currently 91 Super-PACs but 5 of them alone raised 22 million with the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future Super-PAC being by far the biggest money gatherer. Outside spending groups (House Majority PAC, American Bridge 21st century, and Priorities USA Action are among them) for the Democratic Party have raised 10 million dollars for the 2012 election. Most of them, especially Bill Burton's Priorities USA, take unlimited money from corporations. They will spend most of this on advertising. Karl Rove's Super-PAC American Crossroads is now running Spanish-speaking (to obviously court the mainly Democratic Hispanic demographic) ads criticizing President Obama. American Crossroads has brought in 4 million dollars since the beginning of the year.
Over half a million dollars in advertising has already been spent in Missouri by Republican groups against Senator Claire McCaskill. American Crossroads is the major player in this spending binge. Republican lawmaker Mike Lee has opened up a new PAC that appears to be for the purpose of challenging incumbents, mainly Republican incumbents. Ron Paul supporters are creating a Super-PAC for his presidential campaign. Considered a sort of political outsider, Paul is showing that he raises money and is beholden to many of the same interests as the rest of the nation's politicians. The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama PAC has 63,000 dollars they have spent on emails and ads. This PAC is run by the Tea Party Express, although unofficially. Even though Blue Dog Democrats had a rough go in the 2010 elections, their big money interests still love them. So far this year, the 23 Blue Dogs have raised 8.4 million dollars, most of them from PACs. Google is also ramping up its campaign machine ahead of the 2012 election, raking in $570,000 for its PAC in the first six months.
Former FEC chairman Trevor Potter is predicting the rather obvious, there will be a lot of secret money in this coming election. Even a former FEC chairman can see that, as he notes “People refer to the “campaign finance system.” We don’t have a system. We have an accidental conglomeration of laws and court decisions and FEC decisions that have resulted in a campaign finance world that wasn’t designed in any coherent way.”

Tarini Parti of OpenSecrets mourns the death of the publicly financed campaigns (probably the best alternative to our broken campaign finance “system”):

“The public funding program was established in 1976 as a response to Watergate scandal. It has seen few changes during the 30 years it has been used. And as historic levels of money pour into campaign coffers -- and outside groups gain increased freedom to spend unlimited amounts of cash on advertisements of their own -- more and more presidential candidates are choosing to fund their campaigns with private contributions.”
 

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