Citizens United – Part 2

Soon after the 2010 decision regarding Citizens United was decided, we saw an explosion of the “super PAC”. A PAC, or political action committee, is a private group organized and funded with the intent of electing a political candidate or pushing a particular agenda. Traditional political action committees are bound by a $5000 annual limit on the size of contributions they can accept from individuals. Traditional PACs are also prohibited from accepting contributions from corporations and labor unions. A super PAC is freed from these restrictions as long as they don’t: 1) give money directly to a candidate or other political committees that give directly to candidates, or  2)  coordinate how it spends its money with a federal candidate.

In addition, super PACs are not allowed by law to coordinate with their candidates directly, but have created a work-around to these rules. Super PACs are structured around a maze of groups and subgroups that purposely cloaks its donors in order to disguise where the money is raised and where the money is spent. Super PACs operate under a veil of secrecy by design, which makes them even more troubling to the democratic system. Because they are permitted to accept money from incorporated entities that do not have to make the sources of their funding public, it’s possible for them to keep the names of actual donors undisclosed. The Washington Post and The New York Times, for example, reported they, “spent over two years after the 2012 election trying to gain access to and verify how much these PACs actually spent on Republican candidates.”

What is even scarier is the sheer the amount of cash these billionaire businessmen are willing to spend in order to secure their business interests. In 2012, the Washington Post reported, “The political network spearheaded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has expanded into a far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity, raising at least $407 million during the 2012 campaign.” A recent Huffington Post article stated, “Early this year, the brothers’ network unveiled plans to spend an astonishing $900 million on its political and advocacy drives in the 2016 election cycle.” $900 million, seriously? What couldn’t you buy for $900 million, I would assume even the presidency?

What are your thoughts? Can we ever get away from big money and big business controlling our political system? 

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