The Associated Press has a great breakdown of several ominous trends all conspiring to make this year the “Year of Big Money.” In the muddy terrain formed in the aftermath of the reckless Citizens United decision, wealthy individuals play puppet master for federal campaigns, corporations can secretly slip massive contributions into political ad spending, and airwaves are awash in a total war of negativity and mudslinging.
The AP lists several big reasons for the insane spending in this election cycle. Here’s one of our favorites:
4. Big business invited in
Companies and unions can play the super PAC game, too. So far businesses and organizations have given just under a fourth of super PAC money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Publicly traded corporations may fear offending stockholders or customers, however. Gay rights activists protested loudly when Target Corp. donated $150,000 to a super PAC supporting a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate who strongly opposed gay marriage. The company apologized.
Corporations may prefer backdoor avenues of giving that also are opening wider to them under the new rules.
"You can imagine the scenario in which a Microsoft or Google or Facebook decides, 'This election really matters. What's another $20 million?'" said Brigham Young University professor David Magleby, who studies campaign finance.
And they could be pressured to give.
Michael J. Malbin, executive director of the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute, worries about a return to the days of President Richard Nixon's campaign shaking down corporations. "Unlimited contributions became temptations for officeholders to twist the arms of potential donors and come just one step short of criminal extortion," he said.
Indeed, as we wrote about in another post, most of the money that has been spent in this election cycle has been funneled through groups that face no disclosure requirements. These groups are supposed to be acting in the public interest, as “social welfare” organizations. Instead, they take in massive checks -- some as big as $10 million -- and either use the money basically to run campaign ads, thinly disguised as “issue ads,” or they write a second big check to a super PAC that can use unlimited contributions to slam candidates.
This sham system is broken every which way. The AP lists six. Other factors listed include “new ways to give more than ever,” “donors hiding in the shadows,” and “outside money swamping congressional campaigns.” Check out the full article at the link above.