Home > A3, Learning > Super PACs aren’t so Super

Super PACs aren’t so Super

Political fundraising is one of the most important aspects of the elections process.  This year’s presidential election is shaping up to be the most expensive ever.  The presidential candidates have already accumulated over $330 million, and they are expecting much more to come.  All this money can be attributed to the huge influence Super PACs have had on elections.  Super PACs have the power to potentially define the outcome of elections.    Image

A PAC, or political action committee,  is an organization that campaigns for or against political candidates by donating at least $1000.  Until recently, outside groups were limited to contribute $100,000 on behalf of one candidate.  However, the Supreme Court ruled in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that the federal government may not ban political spending by outside organizations or corporations.  This resulted in the rise of Super PACs, or “independent-expenditure only committees”.  Although the Super PACs cannot directly contribute to candidate campaigns, they are allowed to engage in independent political spending without any legal limits.

What exactly do these Super PACs do with all this money?  Most of them utilize the ability to solely go on the attack against the opposing candidates.  The most common and effective form of attacking is putting out negative ads against the opponent.

For example, conservative billionaire Joe RickettsImage is planning to fund a $10 million campaign to bring down Barack Obama titled, “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama, the Rickets Plan to End His Spending for Good.” Ricketts primary concern is to end the budget deficit.  The campaign is a 54-page proposal that essentially claims that Obama has misled the American people by portraying himself as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”  In addition, the plan is to bring up past ties between controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Obama in order to show how Obama’s ideologies have been negatively influenced from the beginning.  This anti-Obama campaign has the potential to destroy his public image, which proves that Super PACs have the potential to define the outcome of elections.

This year’s election has been greatly influenced by a plethora of Super PACs that have already contributed $100 million.  These Super PACs have led to one of the nastiest elections to date because of the flood of negative ads that they have leaked to the public.  The negative ads are actually detrimental to democracy because they deter people from participating in the elections process.  Super PACs undermine the basic principles of political equality because they take the power out of the hands of the people and place it in the deep pockets of an elite group donors.

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