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.
Outside Political Groups Boosted by Supreme Court Rulingi
|| 0:00:00
X
Jeffrey Young
May 22, 2012 2:42 PM
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.

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

Ukraine President Appeals for More US Support

Speaking before Congress ahead of meeting with President Obama, Petro Poroshenko urges lawmakers to back Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20B in India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high-profile visit 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid