Election junkies circled January 31st on their calendars months ago — but not because of Florida’s primary today, no matter how important it is to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Tuesday’s real significance deals with Super PACs — it’s the day “independent” groups, dominating the 2012 election, must file their financial disclosures for the last six months. Candidate-specific Super PACS — which can take unlimited sums from individuals and corporations, and likewise spend without limits — are like nothing seen in any previous election. They’ve eviscerated the post-Watergate contribution limits that Congress enacted to curb corruption, and they’ve hit the presidential campaign with the force of a freight train.
In Iowa, when Newt Gingrich became the latest Not-Romney to top the polls, it wasn’t Romney himself who led the counterattack. Instead, it was a Romney-backing Super PAC, Restore Our Future, that bloodied Gingrich with a $4 million barrage of attack ads. Romney reaped the benefit of the Super PAC’s scorched earth TV campaign, watching Gingrich stumble to a distant fourth-place finish. Romney got a taste of his own medicine in South Carolina where, thanks to $10 million from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, the pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future flooded the airwaves with a ferocious portrayal of Romney as a predatory capitalist. Just as in Iowa, the attacks worked.
Now the Super PACs have turned to Florida. Romney and his Super PAC blanketed the Sunshine State with more than $15 million of TV ads, outspending Team Gingrich five to one. Super PACs are able to raise and spend these eye-popping totals because they’ve been given a free pass around the contribution limits that apply to candidates.
Full Article: Congress can fix the Super PAC problem – Salon.com.