Disclosure reports from the federal campaigns and super PACs, the monsters spawned by the misguided Citizens United decision and subsequent cases, came out this week. And just as expected, the flood of money keeps on rolling.
According to Politico:
Romney and his super PAC allies and party team raised about $86 million in May, compared with roughly $65 million raised by Obama and his allies, according to campaign finance reports filed Wednesday.
And Romney’s not stopping there; his team is gearing up for an elaborate display of donor schmoozing this weekend, inviting 100 supporters who have raised $100,000 or more to spend the weekend at a tony Utah ski resort with the former Massachusetts governor, his top campaign staff and GOP dignitaries such as Karl Rove and a host of prospective running mates, including Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, Paul Ryan and Bobby Jindal.
One important aspect of this spending, and how it’s being reported in the media, is the non-distinction between allegedly “independent” outside groups and candidates’ campaigns. News reports on the fundraising no longer even bother to explain the difference between the two kinds of entities, even though it’s illegal for them to coordinate spending. So-called big-money “independent” groups are no more than proxy campaigns for the candidates themselves.
Those outside groups, especially on the right, had a particularly successful run in May: Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC raked in $4.6 million, while the super PAC supporting Romney, Restore Our Future, added $5 million to its coffers.
And although the contribution reports just released include identities of donors to candidates and super PACs, a huge amount of money in this election has been raised and spent while keeping donors completely hidden. The vast majority of secret money in the presidential race has been used to mislead and misdirect the public, according to a new study.
An examination of presidential-election advertising spending by the top four secret big-money political groups -- all of them right-wing -- found that 85 percent of their money over a recent six-month period went to ads that independent fact-checkers determined were in some way deceptive.
The Annenberg Public Policy Center calculated that those top four groups spent $29.3 million on advertising related to the presidential race from December 1, 2011 to June 1, 2012. Just under $25 million was spent on ads that fact-checkers said included at least one deception, such as the assertion that "Obama personally lobbied to kill a pipeline bringing oil from Canada” or that “the stimulus bill sent tens of millions of dollars to build traffic lights in China."
And here are some figures from a few of the worst offenders, also from the Huffington Post piece:
- Crossroads GPS, the secretive 501(c)(4) political group co-founded by Karl Rove, spent $10.3 million on deceptive ads during that period, the study found.
- The American Future Fund, a conservative organization based in Iowa, spent $6.4 million broadcasting such ads.
- Americans for Prosperity, funded by the right-wing Koch brothers, spent $5 million on them.
- The American Energy Alliance, a group that fights energy taxes, spent $3.3 million.
So, with another round of FEC reporting in, plus more secret money sloshing around the system, the verdict is clear: the new era of Citizens United politics has created a wave of money to drown out voters’ voices.
However, progressives can do something about the flood of cash: follow the money. If you uncover information about shady entities pumping dough into our elections, let us know at email@example.com.