The U. S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC opened the door to unlimited spending by corporations and unions to advocate for, or against, specific candidates. The early results of the decision are beginning to show. The FEC reports 25 Super PAC’s taking advantage of the removal of restrictions to raise money for independent candidate advocacy. The unrestricted groups cannot be directly tied to the candidate’s campaign where contribution limits were left in place by the Court.
Of the 25 Super PACs intending to support or attack a specific candidate or candidates, 9 have been identified as Republican leaning and 10 as Democratic leaning. The Republican leaning Super PACs have more money and have bought more air time. Contributions range up to $1,000,000 from several corporations to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group. American Crossroads to date is targeting five Senate races in Ohio, Nevada, Colorado, Kentucky and Missouri where it will be either supporting the Republican candidate or attacking the Democrat.
Other Super PACs come, among others, from the Club for Growth and the League for Conservation Voters. The new candidate advocacy PACs are in addition to traditional 527 issue advocacy groups which are prevented from endorsing specific candidates. Prior to the decision in Citizens United, spending from 527 groups had declined by nearly 50% from the elections of 2004 to the elections of 2008.
Comparing mid-term election to mid-term election, Campaign Media Analysis Group reports that spending on political advertising this year is up more than 35% compared to 2006. The numbers include both direct campaign spending and spending by outside groups, including American Crossroads’ $454,000 to date in the Ohio Senate race and its $3,000,000 ad buy for other races. Expectations are that the Super PACs will spend in excess of $50,000,000 in candidate advocacy during the current election cycle.
More at Bloomberg News.