Super PACs are a blight on America’s political landscape. They provide a means for very wealthy individuals and corporate special interests to evade anti-corruption laws that have been on the books for decades. The courts have long recognized that large contributions to political candidates can corrupt and reduce public confidence in our democratic system. So courts have upheld limits on how much individuals may contribute to candidates, as well as outright bans on corporate and union contributions to candidates. But today, Super PACs are operating as de facto campaigns unrestricted by such limits. Super PACs have the ability to both distort the political process and to affect the outcome of a federal election. Super PAC spending buys access and influence for the Super PAC funders.
Some claim that because a Super PAC can’t contribute directly to a candidate and can only make supposedly “independent expenditures,” there is no threat of corruption. The reality, however, is that Super PACs work hand-in-glove with candidates’ campaigns. For example, individuals running “Restore Our Future” ran Romney’s campaign in 2008. The brain trust behind “Priorities USA Action” worked at the Obama White House and the 2008 Obama campaign. Further, candidates and their staff are permitted to be featured guests at Super PAC fundraisers.
Even more troubling is the growing number of “shadow Super PACs” that are funneling secret money into our elections. These groups claim to be tax exempt 501(c)(4) “social welfare” or 501(c)(6) trade organizations, but are undertaking significant election-related activities. Contributions to these tax-exempt organizations do not have to be disclosed under current tax law. In essence, this new scheme is allowing corporations and individuals to evade disclosure of their electoral spending by laundering money through third-party organizations that do not disclose their funders.
Full Article: Super PACs, “Shadow Super PACs” and the Avalanche of Money.