The Age of the Super PAC

The Age of the Super PAC

"It's a virtual certainty that all of this spending will fundamentally distort our democracy"

Two years after the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling has seen the rise of the "super PAC," which can take unlimited donations from people or corporations in support of a candidate.

Many believe that the ability to donate in this way to candidates is giving the super-rich too much influence.

The San Francisco Chroniclereports:

Through organizations with names like Winning Our Future, wealthy interests can furtively fund the type of nasty TV ads that torpedoed then-surging Newt Gingrich before the Iowa caucuses and later carpet-bombed South Carolinians with commercials calling Mitt Romney a job-killing "corporate raider" when he led the Bain Capital private equity firm.

At the same time, presidential aspirants can claim that they had nothing to do with the attacks because the presidential campaigns can't legally communicate with the super PACs doing the dirty work.

Canada's Globe and Mail notes that the super PACs can outspend the campaigns themselves:

The super political action committee, or Super PAC as they are called, act as a surrogate for the candidate, often pulling in far more money than the candidate's own campaign and waging a withering line of attack on the airwaves against opponents.

CNNlooked at super PAC spending in South Carolina:

... a Republican source familiar with ad buys in the state told CNN that the Romney campaign has spent $1.9 million total on the South Carolina airwaves, while a super PAC backing Romney has spent roughly $2.5 million.

Gingrich, meanwhile, spent just $640,000 total on television here.

"Winning Our Future," a super PAC supporting Gingrich, has spent $1.76 million - far less than the $3.4 million the group promised to shell out for a hard-edged ad attacking Romney's record at the private equity firm Bain Capital.

In an op-ed yesterday, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Public Citizen president Robert Weissmanwrote:

It's a virtual certainty that all of this spending will fundamentally distort our democracy, tilting the playing field to favor corporate interests, discouraging new candidates, chilling elected officials and shifting the overall policymaking debate even further in the direction of giant corporate interests and the super-wealthy.

And the Columbia Missourianhas more from a critic:

"There is no possibility of democracy in this country as long as corporations can buy elections of both branches of government (legislative and executive) and the courts," Nestor Mackno,a nurse and Columbia resident, said. "They are puppets of large capitalist corporations on both sides (of the aisle)."

The Center for Responsive Politicsreports that as of today, 290 groups organized as Super PACs have reported total receipts of $32,008,813 and total expenditures of $33,879,526 in the 2012 cycle.

ViewpointTotal Raised
Restore Our Futuresupports Romney$11,368,873Conservative$12,231,700
Winning Our Futuresupports Gingrich$4,572,163Conservative$0
Make Us Great Againsupports Perry$3,959,824Conservative$0
Endorse Libertysupports Paul$3,062,801Conservative$0
Our Destiny PACsupports Huntsman$2,453,204Conservative$0
Red, White and Bluesupports Santorum$1,806,169Conservative$0
House Majority PAC$1,403,505Liberal$2,110,000
American Crossroads$1,064,223Conservative$6,679,887
Club for Growth Action$574,102Conservative$1,344,592
9-9-9 FUNDsupports Cain$468,445Conservative$0
Citizens for a Working America PACsupports Romney$455,000Conservative$858
Majority PAC$450,559Liberal$1,082,407
Priorities USA Actionsupports Obama$321,229Liberal$3,161,535
Santa Rita Super PACsupports Paul$317,542Conservative$0
Freedomworks for America$301,672Conservative$0
Women Vote!$288,500Liberal$262,888
Strong America Nowsupports Gingrich$230,011Conservative$0
Leaders for Familiessupports Santorum$218,411Conservative$0
Rethink PACopposes Brown$156,000Liberal$0
Communications Workers of America$107,000Liberal$295,000
Cooperative of American Physicians$102,184$1,300,149
Americans for a Better Tomorrow,Tomorrowsupports Cain$90,100Conservative$0
Revolution PACsupports Paul$40,406Conservative$0
Conservative Action Fund$25,287Conservative$86,481
Lantern Project$20,435Liberal$25,310
DGA Action$8,082Liberal$0
Turn Right USA$5,792Conservative$420
United Mine Workers of America Power PAC$4,782Liberal$0
Raising Red$2,125Conservative$200,000
Matthew 25 Network$1,100Liberal$0
Citizens Alliance for Better Candidates$0$0
United States Transportation Technology$0$0
1911 Unitedsupports Obama$0Liberal$0
2010 Leadership Council$0Liberal$0
50 State Strategy$0Liberal$1,510
A Promise to Our Children$0Conservative$0
A SuperPAC for Hire$0Unknown$0
ABO 2012 Super PAC$0Unknown$0
Accountability 2010$0Liberal$598
Action 4 Liberty$0Conservative$0
AFL-CIO Workers' Voices PAC$0Liberal$2
Alaskans Standing Together$0Conservative$8,337
Alliance to Protect Taxpayers$0Liberal$0
America for the People$0Unknown$0
America Get Up$0Conservative$31,720
America Votes Action Fund$0Liberal$73,061
America's Families First Action Fund$0Liberal$160,373
America's Next Generation$0Unknown$0
America's President Committee$0Conservative$124,343
America's Super Alliance PAC$0Unknown$0
American Bridge 21st Century$0Liberal$1,562,774
American Citizens of Modest Means$0$0
American Conservative Union$0Conservative$0
American Crosswinds$0Unknown$0
American Dental Assn$0$15
American Freedom and Growth$0$0
American Legacy Alliance$0Conservative$885
American LP$0Liberal$0
American Pheonix Super PAC$0$0
Chase Bank Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
American Sunrise$0Liberal$0
Americans for a Better Tomorrow Today$0Liberal$0
Americans for New Leadership$0Conservative$12,153
Americans for Rick Perrysupports Perry$0Conservative$193,000
Arizonans Working Together$0Conservative$0
Article II Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Better Tomorrow$0Unknown$0
Blue America PAC$0Liberal$0
Brady Bunch PAC$0$0
Bucket Tea Party$0Liberal$0
Building a Better Bluegrass$0Unknown$0
Cain Connections PACsupports Cain$0Conservative$0
California Association of Physician Grou$0$30,950
California for Integrity in Government$0Unknown$0
Campaign for American Values$0Conservative$0
Campaign for Primary Accountability$0Conservative$0
CARMEN'S List$0Liberal$2,959
Carpenter's Dist. Council/KC & Vicinity$0Liberal$0
CAs for Fiscally Conservative Leadership$0Conservative$0 Candidate Fund$0Conservative$0
CAUSE PAC$0Liberal$0
Christians United$0Unknown$0
Christine PAC$0Conservative$119,914
Citizens Fireup Super PAC$0Unknown$0
Citizens for Economic & Natl Security$0Conservative$0
Citizens for Prosperity and Good Governm$0Unknown$0
Citizens for Strength & Security$0Liberal$3,000
Citizens Protest Non Profit$0Liberal$7,087
Citizens United$0Conservative$3,775
Club for Growth Advocacy$0Conservative$0
Cmte for a New Start in the Right Direct$0Unknown$0
Coalition for American Values$0Conservative$0
Coalition to Protect American Values$0Conservative$0
Committee to Elect an Effective Valley Csupports Berman$0Liberal$0
Concerned Taxpayers of America$0Conservative$0
Congressional Leadership Fund$0Conservative$0
Conservative National Committee$0Conservative$100
Conservatives for Truth$0Conservative$127
CREDO Super PAC$0Liberal$0
Downtown for Democracy$0Liberal$0
Draft Christie For President$0Conservative$5,680
Economic Innovation Action Fund$0Liberal$0
Economic Strategy Group$0$0
Efficient America$0Liberal$0
Emergency Committee for Israel$0Conservative$6,153
Ending Spending Fund$0Conservative$0
Environment Colorado Action Cmte$0Liberal$2,500
Faith Family Freedom Fund$0Conservative$209,296
Bank of America Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Feel the Heat PAC$0Unknown$0
FFP PAC$0Unknown$0
Florida Freedom and Growth$0Conservative$0
Florida Is Not for Sale$0Liberal$0
Frack Action USA$0$36,375
Freedom and Liberty PACsupports Johnson$0Conservative$0
Freedom Born$0Unknown$0
Freedom Frontier Action Fund$0Conservative$0
Freedom Path Action Network$0Conservative$100
Friends for a Democratic White House$0Liberal$0
Friends for Democracy in Libya$0$0
Fund for Freedom$0Unknown$0
Global Diaspora PAC$0Unknown$0
Government Integrity Fund$0Unknown$0
Grow PAC$0Conservative$9,950
Heartland Revolution Citizens Fund$0Liberal$63,680
Hispanic Vote$0Liberal$0
United States Billionaires Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes$0Liberal$0
Independent Source$0Liberal$0
Indiana Values Super PAC$0Unknown$0
indyamericans.comopposes Perry$0Liberal$0
Jobs for Floridasupports Perry$0Conservative$0
Jobs For Iowa$0Conservative$136,000
Jobs for South Carolinasupports Perry$0Conservative$0
Keep Conservatives Unitedsupports Bachmann$0Conservative$0
LA Forward$0$0
Social Security Administration Employees$0Conservative$0
League of Conservation Voters$0Liberal$1,238
Legislating Effective American Democracy$0$0
Let Freedom Ring America PAC$0Conservative$11,000
Liberty Action PAC$0Unknown$0
Lincoln Club of Orange County IE Cmte$0Conservative$0
Louisiana Truth PAC$0Liberal$15,250
Majority Action$0Liberal$32
Men Against Prostitution and Trafficking$0$0
My America$0$26,210
National Assn of Realtors$0$303
National Republican Women's Cmte$0Conservative$0
Natl Nurses United 4 Patient Protection$0Liberal$0
NEA Advocacy Fund$0Liberal$20,849
New Hope PAC$0$0
New House Independent Expenditure Cmte$0Unknown$0
New Independent Party$0Unknown$0
New Power PAC$0Liberal$210
New Prosperity Foundation$0Conservative$0
No 2 Sides PAC$0Unknown$0
No Mercy PAC$0Conservative$0
Occupy Politics$0Liberal$0
Ohio State Tea Party$0Conservative$0
Our Future Ohio PAC$0Liberal$5,075
Our Voice$0Conservative$12,940
Parents for a Brighter Future$0$0
Partnership for America's Future$0Conservative$0
Patriot Majority PAC$0Liberal$10,335
Patriot Super PACsupports Obama$0Conservative$0
Patriots for a Better Tomorrow$0Unknown$0
Patriots Fund$0Conservative$10,500
Peach Tea PAC$0Unknown$551
People's Majority$0Conservative$0
Planned Parenthood Votes$0Liberal$1,071
Playoff PAC$0$7,950
Progressive Kick$0Liberal$100,041
Protect Alaska's Future$0Unknown$0
Protecting America's Retirees$0Liberal$6,153
Protecting Choice in California 2010$0Liberal$2,348
Protecting Our Vote$0Liberal$0
PURO PAC$0Unknown$0
Real Leader PAC$0Unknown$0
Rebuilding America$0$0
Remove Weiner Support Ulrich$0Conservative$0
Renew Delawareopposes Carper$0Conservative$0
Republican Governors Assn Ohio$0Conservative$3,096
Republican Presidenital Elections Victor$0Conservative$0
Republican Super PAC$0Conservative$1,500
Republican Truth Squadsupports Romney$0Conservative$0
Restart Congress$0Unknown$0
Restore America's Voice PAC$0Conservative$0
Restore Our America$0Conservative$13,355
Restore Trust PAC$0Unknown$0
Ron Paul Volunteerssupports Paul$0Conservative$0
Saving Florida's Future$0Liberal$5,661
Sierra Club Independent Action$0Liberal$0
Small Business Political Alliance$0Conservative$0
Solutions 2012supports Gingrich$0Conservative$0
Speak Out For America$0Conservative$19,171$0Conservative$6,342
Spirit of America Solutions$0Conservative$0
Stop Public Unions Now$0Conservative$10,773
Strong Utahsupports Hatch$0Conservative$0
Super PAC for America$0Conservative$100
TEA PAC$0Conservative$0
Tea Party Fund$0Conservative$0
Texans for America's Futureopposes Perry$0Conservative$0
Texas Aggies for Perry 2012supports Perry$0Conservative$0
Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC$0Conservative$56,596
The American Worker$0Liberal$37,263
The Internet$0Unknown$0
Triple Crown Project$0$0
Trust In Small Business$0Conservative$5,173
United Food & Commercial Workers Advcy$0Liberal$0
Yale University Grads Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Hillary Clinton For A Better America Sup$0Conservative$0
Bill Clinton for a Better America Super$0Conservative$0
Alaska Natives Tribe Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Bloomingdale's Depart Store Customers Su$0Conservative$0
MLB Sports Players Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Regions Bank Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
USAID Employees Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Harvard University Graduates Super PAC$0Conservative$0
State Farm Insurance Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
United States Dept of Commerce Employees$0Conservative$0
United Nations Diplomats Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Sears Department Store Customers Super P$0Conservative$0
Dick Cheney for a Better America Super P$0Conservative$0
American Indians Tribe Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Republican 2012 Presidential Candidates$0Conservative$0
United States Dept of Defense Employees$0Conservative$0
General Motors Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
AIG Insurance Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
United States Treasury Employees Super P$0Conservative$0
Amtrust Bank Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
United States Dept of Justice Super PAC$0Conservative$0
United States Dept of Energy Employees S$0Conservative$0
Allstate Insurance Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
United States HUD Employees Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Wells Fargo Bank Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Marriott Hotel Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
American Airlines Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Fidelity Investments Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Costco Store Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
George W Bush For A Better America Super$0Conservative$0
United States Dept Of Health Employees S$0Conservative$0
Native Americans Tribe Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Wal-Mart Stores Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Macy's Department Store Customers Super$0Conservative$0
Citibank Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
United States Dept of State Employees Su$0Conservative$0
United States DOT Employees Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Federal Reserve Bank Employees Super PAC$0Conservative$0
JC Penny Department Store Customers Supe$0Conservative$0
IRS Employees Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Democratic Presidential Elections Victor$0Conservative$0
USCIS Employees Super PAC$0Conservative$0
United States Dept Of Labor Employees Su$0Conservative$0
United States Dept of Interior Employees$0Conservative$0
Goldman Sachs Group Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
NBA Sport Players Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Westgate Resorts Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
NFL Sport Players Super PAC$0Conservative$0
American Red Cross Employees Super PAC$0Conservative$0
USDA Employees Super PAC$0Conservative$0
United States Dept Of Ed Employees Super$0Conservative$0
Suntrust Bank Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
United States DHS Employees Super PAC$0Conservative$0
Hilton Hotel Customers Super PAC$0Conservative$0
US Israel Friendship PAC$0Liberal$0
Valley-Israel Alliencesupports Berman$0Liberal$0
Veterans for Rick Perrysupports Perry$0Conservative$16,625
Vietnamese American PAC$0$0
Virginia Tea Party Alliance$0Conservative$0
Vote Out Incumbents for Democracy$0Conservative$47
Voters for Common Sense$0$0
Voters for Justice$0Liberal$10,500
We Love USA PAC$0Conservative$0
We're Not Going Back$0Liberal$0
West Hollywood/Bev Hills Stonewall Dems$0Liberal$0
WOLF PAC$0Liberal$0
Working for Us PAC$0Liberal$2,911
Working for Working Americans$0Liberal$0
YG Action Fundsupports Cantor$0Conservative$0
Young Republicans for a Better Florida$0Conservative$0
Young Voters$0Conservative$0
Your America$0Unknown$0

Based on data released by the FEC on Saturday, January 21, 2012.

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