Super PACs = Super Influence

Posted on February 7, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

They’re richer than the biggest donor, more powerful than a grassroots movement, able to leap decades-old spending limits with a single bound. Yes, the Super PACs are here and they’re promising to flex their muscles like never before in 2012.

Officially called “independent-expenditure only committees,” Super PACs are political action committees that can raise unlimited sums from individuals, corporations, unions and other groups to promote candidates and causes as they see fit.

Super PACs were born of a 2010 Supreme Court decision that said the government cannot prohibit unions and corporations from spending money on politics. The one rule: they cannot coordinate their expenditures with candidates or political parties.

Yeah, right. They may not be allowed to sit across the table from each other to lay out strategies, but candidates and parties are not prohibited from making their desires known to Super PACs through other means, like through the media.

It’s pretty obvious, for example, that the Super PAC Restore Our Future is backing Mitt Romney by attacking Newt Gingrich, while Winning Our Future is doing the same on behalf of Gingrich.

Just the other day, in an interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC’s Today Show, President Obama said he’d like to see Super PACs out of politics, but acknowledged that the courts have made it clear that they are not likely to be shut down anytime soon.

“There’s going to be just a lot of money floating around….And I guarantee you a bunch of that’s going to be negative,” Obama said. Later in the day, however, the Obama campaign let it be known that it was giving its blessing to the Democratic Super PAC Priorities USA Action.

Some saw these seemingly contradictory statements as hypocrisy, others as a refusal to unilaterally disarm in the dark money race. And the Democrats are far behind in that race: The top three conservative Super PACs have so far raised more than $50 million; the top three liberal funds have gotten around $10 million.

While it’s the Republican Super PACs that are dropping the big money now, there’s plenty of Democratic cash, including union money, that has to be mobilized.

How much are we talking about? Well, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, as of February 06, 2012, 313 groups organized as Super PACs have reported total receipts of $98,650,993 and total independent expenditures so far of $46,239,818 in the 2012 cycle.

If you don’t think Super PACs are going to influence who wins the presidential and congressional races this year, consider this: the expenditure by Super PACs are running twice the level they were at this point in 2008 and 95 percent of the political spending so far during the 2012 election cycle has come from Super PACs.

And if you’re feeling like that $100 donation you just made to your favorite candidate is made insignificant by the presence of Super PACs, well, you’re right.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at

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[…] and Colorado put new energy and life into his pro-life platform. From where we sit, now that President Obama has agreed to new standards for his own Super PAC, and his favorable numbers are inching upward, the Republicans need to find an end to the […]

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