Friday, February 17, 2012

Super PACs: 22 people contributed $67 million

Political campaigns ought to be about repealing Nafta. Bringing good jobs home. Prosecuting Wall Street criminals. Restoring our home values. Lowering the cost of college tuition.

They're not. They're about bad jokes, tax returns and extramarital affairs.

And that's deliberate. The super-wealthy who bankroll anti-worker politicians like Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Mitt Romney don't want anyone talking about restoring the middle class.

The influence of the super-wealthy is only growing. The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision unleashed a tsunami of political cash from the .000000071%. As Stephen Colbert noted in a recent show,
...half of the money ($67 million) raised by super PACs in 2011 came from just 22 people.
Here's how it works, according to Ari Berman:
Before Citizens United, the maximum amount one person could give to a candidate was $2,500; for a political action committee, $5,000; for a political party committee, $30,800. Now, the sky’s the limit for a super PAC, and even more disturbingly, any donor can give an unlimited contribution to a 501c4 -- outfits defined by the IRS as “civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare,” and to make matters worse, that contribution will remain eternally secret. In this way, American politics is descending further into the darkness, with 501c4s quickly gaining influence as “shadow super PACs.”
Disgusted yet? If not, read on about how "social welfare" groups buy our democracy a cost of $24 million, 40% of the TV ads in the presidential race so far came from these tax-exempt “social welfare” groups. The Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads, a leading conservative super PAC ... also runs a 501c4 called Crossroads GPS. It’s raised twice as much money as its sister group, all from donations whose sources will remain hidden from American voters. Serving as a secret slush fund for billionaires evidently now qualifies as social welfare.
This is exactly why unions are more important than ever. Only through mass mobilization of working families will we get the money out of politics -- and restore the middle class.