The 2012 elections are awash in secret money, with donors accountable to no one, while the national media sleeps and few voters seem to care. If money has an impact in U.S. elections, the race for the White House and other high offices may be determined by faceless donors pulling the strings from the shadows. Not exactly an image promoted by the Founding Fathers. In January 2010’s Citizens United vs. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively ended the restrictions on political contributions from the general funds of corporations and unions for independent electioneering. The U.S. appeals court in Washington then used Citizens United to rule in SpeechNow.org vs. FEC that limits on individual contributions to groups making independent expenditures are unconstitutional.
The two rulings established a new order in how outside groups can affect elections, one pretty much without boundaries. If the national media’s response to the new order has been muted, watchdog groups have been vocal and direct.
The OpenSecrets blog of the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington says the Supreme Court ruling “allowed non-profit corporations under the Tax Code 501c to spend unlimited amounts of money running … political advertisements while not revealing their donors.” The blog said “conservative non-profit groups [have] spent $121 million without disclosing where the money came from.”