Home > B2, Learning > Donations to Campaigns Not Going Where You Think

Donations to Campaigns Not Going Where You Think

In our government class this year we have discussed many different intriguing topics and had the privilege of looking in depth into the Presidential election because it is an election year. One particular topic that stuck with me was

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the money and elections topic.  During this class we had to look up the amount of money spent by certain candidates running for specific offices.  This got me to thinking how much money was actually raised by our Presidential Candidates.  I began researching this and found, according to a New York Times article, the candidates altogether have raised more than 330 million dollars for their campaigns.  Among all the Candidates Barack Obama had raised the most with around 196,900,097 dollars and the leading republican was Mitt Romney 87,452,399 dollars.  This led me to think about what the candidates could possibly be doing with all this money.

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John McCain

There is no question that successful political fundraising is critical to the success of a political campaign. With the money raised in the political fundraising, politicians will put that money into campaign ads to get their name further out there.  These ads include commercials, bumper stickers, lawn posters, and many more.  The significant money contributed to political campaigns is governed by campaign finance reformed laws.  In a recent decision which we studied in class (2010), Citizens United v. Federal Election commission, the Supreme Court struck down previsions of legislation sponsored by Senator John McCain. The Supreme Court decision lifted limits on political fund raising and spending by corporations, unions and other none campaign groups.  This lead to the creation of Super PACs which are changing the face of the 2012 presidential election by letting the PAC raise a huge sum of money and spending it for their specific candidate.  With this knowledge of the large sums of money, John McCain states, “I promise you, there will be huge scandals because there is too much money washing around.”

Scandals in the political process are not necessarily new to the process itself, but in researching the fundraising money for candidates some resent scandals have headlined. The most significant scandal in the news very recently has been the case of Senator John Edwards.  According to the Los Angeles Times, “In charging Edwards with six counts in violating campaign finance laws, the government says he accepted $925,000 in illegal contributions to cover up an affair and save his 2008 Presidential Campaign from scandal, and then conspired to lie about it.” This is an example of not necessarily knowing where the money being donated and raised by a candidate is going.  If found guilty, Edwards could face prison time.

I talk about scandals in the political process because although we may think we are helping our candidate by donating money to their campaign, we could actually be giving them money to help cover up a wrong doing in the past or contributing to the next scandal.

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