News / USA

PACs Boosted by Supreme Court Ruling

After years of strong legal restrictions, a pair of 2010 Supreme Court decisions removed many barriers to fundraising and spending on elections by outside political groups.  And this has notably impacted the 2012 presidential political race.

The contest for control of the White House is not limited to just the presidential candidates' own campaigns.  There are also outside groups that want to affect the results of the election.  And in the 2012 presidential race, these groups have been given significantly expanded freedoms to influence the outcome.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases in 2010 that greatly changed the U.S. political landscape. The Supreme Court agreed with two groups, Citizens United and Speech Now,  that existing regulations by the Federal Election Commission went against the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

But the Court's decisions opened up more than just free speech, as FEC Chairwoman Cynthia Bauerly explains:

"It struck down, specifically, a prohibition on corporations being able to spend independently, make electioneering communications, or independent expenditures, on behalf of a candidate," said Bauerly.

The Supreme Court rulings affected laws and regulations meant to prevent companies, or unions, or very wealthy individuals from essentially overwhelming the political process with their cash.  Today, these rulings have helped to create powerful outside political action committees, or "Super PACS," as noted by Politico newspaper's David Levinthal.

"So what is different is that corporations, unions, and other special interests could spend as much money as they ever could want to, to give to new types of political organizations that, in turn, could themselves spend and raise unlimited sums of money," said Levinthal.  

As of April this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign committee reported contributions top $86 million. At the same time, a pro-Romney Super PAC called "Restore Our Future" reported bringing in nearly $52 million.

By comparison, President Obama's re-election campaign reported raising almost $200 million by that date.

Federal regulations say these PACS cannot coordinate their operations with candidates' campaigns.  But one political consultant who works with Democrats, Peter Fenn, says the reality is different.

"Most of these so-called independent groups are not independent at all," said Fenn.  "They may not be working on direct orders from the candidate or the party, but they know what the issues are. They are part and parcel of the campaign."

While some decry the Supreme Court's decisions and the rise of these Super PACS, others say both parties, and these political committees, have equal opportunities to raise money.  And, they say, voters won't be swayed by these outside groups.  

"At the end of the day, they're [voters] going to look at a political ad and they are primarily going to judge that ad by its content, not by who is pushing it, or by the rules that created a playing field for the ad to exist in the first place," noted Roll Call newspaper reporter David Drucker.

Some observers say that by the November election, these outside PACs may well raise and spend more money than the candidates' own campaign committees, and will continue to do so in future elections.

Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: heshukui from: china
May 26, 2012 8:54 PM
I thingk The public interest are in urgent need of balance!If most people's interests are still can't get the balance,The world people will change for the United States to the good.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid