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super PACs

The 2012 election is unlike any other when it comes to campaign funding.  As a result of two Supreme Court rulings in 2010, unlimited contributions by corporations and unions can be made to the presidential campaign.  Where does this money go?  It goes to super PACs (political action committees).  These loosened restrictions allow corporations, unions, and advocacy groups to have the ability to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate or oppose hot topic issues.  Essentially, these groups help spread their candidate’s message to the public better than if the candidate were to act alone.

The catch? The law prohibits a super PAC from coordinating its efforts with a candidate’s campaign.  However, it can be difficult to regulate if these donors are really abiding by the law or not.  In The Caucus blog on the New York Times website, Senator Charles E. Schumer argues that super PAC funding is a “disaster for our democracy” and is a “poison corroding the deep roots of our democracy.”  Perhaps this poison that Schumer is referring to is how the people who are donating these large sums of money do not have to disclose their identities.  Their reputations are not at stake, no matter how much money they give or how they choose to support their candidate.

According to Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post, super PACs are troublesome for several reasons.  Many people have associated super PACs as being the “evil twin” of campaigns because they are not accountable to voters since there are no identity disclosure laws.  A great deal of negative and brutal ads have surfaced, attacking the candidate’s opposition.  Essentially, super PACs have done the dirty work for the candidates because no reputation is at stake.

While I’m no expert in the world of politics, this Supreme Court ruling creating super PACs makes me question the ethics behind it.  I’m sure the funding has been used in positive ways, but the more I read about the subject, the more I hear about all of the negativity associated with it.  If someone has something negative to say, don’t hide behind the no disclosure aspect of it.  Play nice.



6 thoughts on “super PACs

  1. Jenna, I think it is really interesting that these corporations can basically say whatever you want and endorse something completely different. It definitely opens the door to being unethical if corporations can say or support one person but be funding another’s campaign. It also lets them make undisclosed donations in any size, regardless of how big the corporation is which is donating it. I am not a political expert either, but this blog sparked my interest. Thanks for the interesting post!

    Posted by alyssakinell | February 7, 2012, 9:02 pm
  2. Thanks, Alyssa. I do think this has a lot to do with ethics. I’ve always been turned off by negativity in presidential debates and this is no exception. I think it’s unfair that the wealthiest people can donate so much of their money and have all this power in these campaigns. I wonder if this Supreme Court ruling will ever be revisited. There are undoubtedly pros from unrestricted and unlimited funding, however the cons are what is surfacing the most.

    Posted by Jenna | February 7, 2012, 9:22 pm
  3. So one crazy incident that your post reminds me of. I thought it was directly tied to Super PACs, but not so. Anyway, it is still about the problems of transparency and democracy. Jon Huntsman, at the time running for the Republican nomination, was attacked in a nasty ad that suggested he was a “manchurian” candidate (a deep mole for an enemy power) because he speaks Chinese. His campaign rallied, and according to at least one political observer, Rachel Maddow, made some of his best moments in fighting off this scurrilous attack. OK?

    Bu wait, there is more. Turns out that Huntsman accuses the Ron Paul campaign of releasing the ad.

    Then, the Paul campaign provides evidence that the negative ad against Huntsman was released by the Huntsman campaign itself.

    I honestly can’t even sort it all out for this comment. Some decent coverage comes from the Hollywood Reporter of all places.

    My thought when I heard all of this: given these complex info wars and espionage efforts, how can the average citizen make any informed choices? I would need like my own private CIA to sort through this kind of complexity. And super PACs only make it worse.

    Posted by Jordi | February 7, 2012, 11:23 pm
  4. I would agree that there is way too much money in politics and that their needs to be campaign finance reform (I actually did my white paper for this class on it). One of the issues, however, is freedom of speech. The Supreme Court ruled that people have the right to spend money on ads to speak their minds about candidates. This becomes a tricky issue to deal with because no one wants to start impeding on freedom of speech. I think this was a great choice for a blog because I don’t think enough people are really thinking about how politics has become a money game.

    Posted by ChrisB | February 8, 2012, 7:31 pm
  5. Jenna, I really enjoyed reading this post because it made me think of the many movies and TV shows that involve illegal campaign contributions. It seems that is almost allowed by the government now since corporations can provide unlimited funding. This takes a whole new stance on ethics, in that it is not about social responsibility but more about corporations taking a political stance in terms of candidates, when in fact is most likely that not everyone in the firm has the same political views.

    Posted by Catherine Gibbons | February 12, 2012, 3:34 pm


  1. Pingback: Blog Council Update: Week 1 « business government society 2 - February 11, 2012

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Blog 5 before session 6 What (interest) or Who (person) Inspires You? For this week’s prompt, the Blog Council wants you to examine how this class relates to your own interests. So, please write about how this class relates to some of your own intellectual or other learning interests. We are NOT interested in how it relates to a specific career goal. Plan B: same idea, but based on a person. See whole post for details.

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