Political groups independent of candidates spent more than $814 million to influence congressional elections last month, a record for the midterms and nearly twice the spending in 2010, Federal Election Commission records show. The most obvious explanation for the rapid increase is the effect of the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court and the rise in spending by super PACs, which can accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and unions. This year the groups jumped into Democratic efforts to maintain control of the Senate, and into the ultimately successful campaign by Republicans to retake it. The total includes Democratic and Republican party committees for House and Senate candidates, which are not permitted to coordinate with their candidates when making independent expenditures, but even excluding those four committees the amount ($605 million) would still be a midterm record. It does not include some groups, mostly non-profits, that spend money to influence elections without explicitly calling for the election or defeat of a candidate.
The bulk of the reported 2014 independent spending — at least $514 million — came in Senate races, and that amount was nearly twice the $277 million that outside groups spent on Senate contests in 2010 (adjusted for inflation). That’s far less than national, state and local party committees combined to spend during an election cycle, but it is growing closer to what Senate candidates spend. Although final numbers for this year’s candidates are not yet available, in 2012 Senate candidates spent $773 million in 2014 dollars.
Full Article: Outside Groups Set Spending Record in Midterms – NYTimes.com.