Dear Commons Community,
For those of us following the presidential primaries, we have increasingly heard/seen the impact of super PACs. A “super PAC” is like a traditional PAC (Political Action Committee) without many of the restrictions. A “super PAC” can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money for the sole purpose of supporting or opposing political candidates. A “super PAC” can directly attack a political candidate. The only caveat is that a “super PAC” is not allowed to coordinate directly with candidates or political parties.
The New York Times is reporting on the individuals who are among the largest donors to super Pacs during this election cycle. For example:
“Last June, Harold C. Simmons, a wealthy Texas businessman, sent a $100,000 check to Americans for Rick Perry, a “super PAC” preparing for Mr. Perry’s entry into the presidential race. A few months later, he donated $1 million to a different pro-Perry group through his company. In December, as Mr. Perry’s fortunes waned, Mr. Simmons wrote another check, this one for $500,000, to Winning Our Future, a super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich.
But Mr. Simmons was not done. In mid-January, as Mr. Gingrich was headed toward a victory in the South Carolina primary, Mr. Simmons wrote a $100,000 check to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. And toward the end of the month, as Restore Our Future used his money to help bludgeon Mr. Gingrich with attack ads in Florida, Mr. Simmons sent yet another $500,000 check to Mr. Gingrich’s super PAC.
“He generally supports conservative Republican candidates,” said Chuck McDonald, a spokesman for Mr. Simmons. “I assume he was just trying to be helpful.”
Mr. Simmons’s contributions — all told, he has given more than $14 million to Republican super PACs so far this cycle — make him the exemplar of a new breed of superdonor in presidential politics. About two dozen individuals, couples or corporations have given $1 million or more to Republican super PACs this year, an exclusive club empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and other rulings to pool their money into federal political committees and pour it directly into this year’s presidential campaign.
Collectively, their contributions have totaled more than $50 million this cycle, making them easily the most influential and powerful political donors in politics today…
Some of the superdonors… are longtime backers of independent groups that were active in past campaigns, like the Swift Boat group, which in 2004 challenged the Vietnam War record of Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee.
Several attend the exclusive, secretive gatherings of wealthy conservative donors hosted twice a year by the billionaire Koch brothers. ..”
The New York Times has provided a website that lists a number of the major super PAC donors for all the candidates including President Barack Obama.
In an age where the need to buy “exposure time” in the mass media is critical for national candidates, these super PACs provide an unfair advantage in making or breaking candidates. It makes a joke of the first words of the United States Constitution about “We, the people…” In reality, they been replaced by “We, the people with money…”
We are in a country and world ruled by elites. For further information, I highly recommend The Rise of the New Global Elite by Chrystia Freeland that appeared in The Atlantic in January/February 2011.