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Despite Super PACs Finding Limited Success in 2012, Money in Politics Will Escalate

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With final receipts tallied, spending on the 2012 federal elections has topped $6 billion, making it the most expensive election in the history of the world -- & absent reform, election spending is certain to escalate in coming cycles, despite much of t

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JL A (281)
Thursday December 13, 2012, 8:05 pm

PR Watch
Published on PR Watch (
Despite Super PACs Finding Limited Success in 2012, Money in Politics Will Escalate
by Brendan Fischer [1] — December 12, 2012 - 8:13am

With final receipts tallied, spending on the 2012 federal elections has topped $6 billion, making it the most expensive election in the history of the world -- and absent reform, election spending is certain to escalate in coming cycles, despite much of the money spent in 2012 failing to sway election outcomes.

Despite Losses, Spending Expected to Accelerate

The U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC opened the door to much of the unlimited fundraising and spending that marked the 2012 elections. That decision directly led to the rise of Super PACs, which are responsible for around half of all reported spending, and are largely funded [3]by just a handful of donors -- 59 percent of the reported $834 million [3] raised by Super PACs in 2011 came from just 156 people and organizations giving more than $1 million each.

Much of the money spent failed to result in the wealthy donor's desired outcome. Given these losses, the nation's billionaires and millionaires might not be expected to pour in the same amount over coming election cycles. But reports suggest they will anyway.

Spending by GOP-aligned Super PACs and nonprofits have been widely described as a "bust" [4] that had "little impact" [5] on election outcomes, and have been widely ridiculed for achieving an extremely low return [6] on the dollars spent: Karl Rove's American Crossroads, for example, spent almost $105 million on the 2012 election cycle, but only 1.29 percent of that money was spent on elections where the group's preferred candidate won.

“Congrats to @KarlRove on blowing $400 million this cycle,” Donald Trump tweeted.

Despite that low return on investment, many of the wealthy donors who bankrolled Republican Super PACs and dark money nonprofits are pledging to spend the same or more next election.

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam poured a total of $150 million into Super PACs and dark money nonprofits, including almost $40 million to Rove's American Crossroads and $10 million to the Romney-affiliated Restore Our Future in just the final weeks of the election cycle. He also gave $50 million to right-wing dark money nonprofit groups that do not disclose their donors, including the David Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity and Rove's Crossroads GPS.

Most of that $150 million backed losing candidates. Nonetheless, he plans to [7] "double" his political spending in coming cycles: "I'll spend that much and more," he told the Wall Street Journal.

Other big donors also plan to repeat their spending patterns. Foster Friess, for example, whose millions helped buoy Rick Santorum's presidential bid, has also pledged [4] to continue spending, but will direct money towards grassroots organizing instead of funding TV ads.

On the Democratic side, many of that party's wealthiest supporters initially expressed reluctance [8]about joining the post-Citizens United unrestricted money war, but justified [9] big checks to Super PACs as a necessary evil to ward off a Romney victory and an even more lawless campaign finance landscape. But Democrat-aligned Super PACs are proving not to be a one-time "necessary evil." Democrats were successful in 2012 in part because the campaign apparatus utilized well-funded outside money groups better than Republicans -- and the party apparently doesn't plan on changing its winning strategy.

Democratic Party leaders and strategists are moving seamlessly [10] into Super PAC fundraising for the 2014 and 2016 election cycles, despite an official party platform that insists President Obama and Democrats "support campaign finance reform" and are "fighting to reduce the influence of money in politics."
Ending Political Corruption in Washington Top Issue for Voters; Low Priority for Lawmakers

Adelson, for one, apparently recognizes that his political spending can pay off, even if he doesn't always win elections. He told the Wall Street Journal he has many friends in Washington, "but the reasons aren't my good looks and charm. It's my "pocket personality" -- referring to his donations.

"The larger issue is the ability to buy influence over government policies, and that's operating in full force regardless of the outcomes of particular races," said [11] Fred Wertheimer of campaign finance reform group Democracy 21.

In July, Gallup conducted a poll [12]that found that the number two issue on the vast majority of voters’ minds — after jobs — was ending political corruption in Washington. 87 percent of voters ranked the issue as "extremely / very important," putting it higher than inside-the-beltway priorities [13] like reducing the deficit and cutting entitlement programs.

A variety of legislative proposals and fixes [14] have been offered to help limit the influence of money in politics. But absent reform, election spending will almost certainly accelerate.
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Roseann d (178)
Thursday December 13, 2012, 10:36 pm
Funny how they have unlimited funds for SuperPac lies that they could be spending on...job creation, but no money to pay their taxes like participating members of society.

JL A (281)
Thursday December 13, 2012, 10:44 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Roseann because you have done so within the last week.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Friday December 14, 2012, 4:45 pm
Shameful, says it all.

JL A (281)
Friday December 14, 2012, 4:48 pm
You are right in your choice of the word shameful Theodore. You cannot currently send a star to Theodore because you have done so within the last week.

Robert O (12)
Saturday December 15, 2012, 12:53 am
I was thinking the same thing Roseann D., oh sure they have bucketful's of money to throw around to further their own elitist, hateful, anti-99% agenda's but when things like Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps are brought up then all of a sudden it's, "these entitlement programs are bankrupting the nation" "there's no money, there's no money!", "there's a spending problem in Washington coming from the Democratic side of the aisle!" What a bunch of malarkey! They make me sick!

JL A (281)
Saturday December 15, 2012, 6:15 am
You cannot currently send a star to Robert because you have done so within the last week.
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