Super PACS depreciate the election process

Liza Magill, Staff Writer

By the end of our current Presidential election season, analysts estimate that over $8 billion will be spent on campaigns for candidates; this money will fund advertisements, rallies, and even the elaborate brunches for large donors. While investment is clearly necessary for such important campaigns, this ostentatious funding delegitimizes our election process and leaves only millionaires able to sustain a major run for office.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not limit the donations of individuals or for-profit companies to political candidates or action groups in the case Citizens vs. United. This ruling has led to the outpouring of monetary support for the 2012 Presidential candidates in the form of Super PACs––independent organizations that campaign for or against political candidates, ballot initiatives, or legislation. These super PACs, which are mostly funded by a small and wealthy base of voters, are the basis of the superfluous spending that is depreciating the election process.

Because of the exponential number of super PACs formed in light of the 2012 Presidential election, candidates have received millions of dollars for their campaigns. This led to the $12.5 million spent on advertisements in Iowa alone in apprehension of the voter turnout. Advertisements such as The Restore Our Future ads by a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney condemned other candidates, and the New York Times notes that super PAC ads attacking Newt Gingrich were the leading factor for his loss of support before the caucus. When our political approval comes from having millions to spend on advertisements criticizing other candidates, our election process becomes undermined significantly.

Donations from super PACs also isolate the wealthy from those who can’t afford to spend millions on a campaign. Data from the Federal Election Commission found that through 2011, 96% of all super PAC money came from donations of $10,000 or more. At the same time, 40% of the money came from 35 donations of over $1 million. The views of Americans are being squandered by the wealthy who fund campaigns that can succeed through this money alone.

Super PACs can also lead to unintentional consequences for the candidates when in office because the President will be more likely to support his financial backers. Non-profit companies can refrain from giving their list of individual donors through the tax code, so many political supporters who want to remain anonymous can give money to a non-profit. Thus, “secret money” can be donated to the candidate and political dealings could be created without any knowledge by the public.

Many people have already voiced their opinions about super PACs through supporting Jon Stewart’s super PAC “Americans For a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” that has raised over $1,000,000 in support of the man who hopes to become the President of “The United States of South Carolina.” While this may seem to transcend politics, based on his monetary support and the direction our society is heading, Stewart may qualify to be a Presidential candidate in 2016.