Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Politics 101: Super PACs

I'm sure you've tuned in to any of the 2012 election coverage you've heard mention of Super PACs. I know a lot of folks outside of the beltway that don't know what a PAC is, let alone a Super one. A political action committee aka PAC is essentially a group of people who come together pool their contributions and donate money to a politicians and candidates. PACs are generally focused on a single issue and thus are a more effective means of influence because a candidate will be able to recognise the cause. If I wrote a check to a candidate he/she wouldn't know the issues I care about or what's important to me, but if I join a PAC that supports environmental protection and that PAC writes a check to that same candidate you can be sure they'll know what I care about. Most companies, trade associations and even interest groups have a PAC now a days. There are literally thousands of PACs out there, if not hundreds of thousands.

The FEC (Federal Election Commission) has created strict guidelines for PACs to follow. The maximum a PAC can contribute to a candidate per election is $5,000. PAC's have to report ever dollar they spend and it becomes public record. Any lobbyists who use the money to attend events are also reported and monitored closely. And any individual who contributes more than $200 to the PAC also has to be listed with receipt reports to the FEC.

Super PACs are a different story though. Based on a Supreme Court case decided in 2010 (Citizens United) Corporations are people too. For the first time corporations can create "Super PACs" and contribute unlimited funds to elections. There are not necessarily people behind these Super PACs so that information does not have to be disclosed. There is NO limit to what a Super PAC can contribute to a candidate. No Limit. They are free to make their own advertisements where they can blatantly disperse lies, but who cares? because no one's name is really attached to it.

In the 2010 election cycle over $4 billion dollars were spend by candidates, party committees, and Super PACs. That's the most in history, and 2012 looks to far exceed even those numbers.

It's really sickening how out of control this spending is getting. If you think lobbying is bad  just think about what these politicians will do after being propped up by a Super PAC. $5000 is nothing now. It's scary really.

Unfortunately in these highly partisan times we are unable to tackle real reform, but now is when we need the reform the most. What to do what to do. Does this all just infuriate you? I am beyond tired of it all. I might need to pick a new industry to work in and leave politics as a hobby.

Hope you're having a great Wednesday!

1 comment:

Lauren @ Lawfully Wedded Wife said...

Oh yes, it infuriates me plenty! That is why politics will not be a part of my career. I would need serious anger management tactics...among other things. :)

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