News / USA

PACs Boosted by Supreme Court Ruling

TEXT SIZE - +
Jeffrey Young
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.
Outside Political Groups Boosted by Supreme Court Rulingi
|| 0:00:00
X
Jeffrey Young
May 22, 2012
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, as VOA's Jeffrey Young reports in this segment of How America Elects.

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.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid