With Citizens United Ruling, Have Super PACs Run Amuck in 2012?


Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, published a column in today's New York Times' "Campaign Stops" blog about the shocking lack of transparency in the GOP presidential campaign.

"But even as they choose from among the Republican presidential candidates, voters haven’t been able to find out who is really behind the spots – who has been putting up the big money it takes to make and air these messages,” she writes.

She continues:

Every major presidential candidate is being aided by a group now known as a “super PAC” and sometimes by more than one.

Triggered by the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and a couple of lower court decisions, these new groups are allowed to collect unlimited sums of money from individuals, corporations, unions and trade groups — and to use these funds for expenditures that expressly call for the election or defeat of a candidate for federal office. A handful of candidate-specific super PACs have spent $15 million and counting on advertisements designed to aid their preferred politicians.

... Worse, these groups haven’t had to disclose the names of their donors since July and won’t be forced to do so again until Jan. 31.

Krumholz goes on to conclude:

It’s absurd that our campaign-finance disclosure system has not kept up with the realities of the modern campaign schedule. And super PACs should not be able to duck disclosure in midstream, shielding their donors’ identities just when voters most need to know who they are. By the next electoral cycle, the F.E.C. must put an end to this maneuvering; there’s no excuse for allowing it to continue even now.

Like it or not (and most Americans don’t), we have to live with Citizens United and the explosion in spending by outside groups that has come in its wake. But transparency shouldn’t also be a victim of the court’s decision.

What do you make of Krumholz' conclusions? Does the lack of transparency in campaigning change the way you're thinking about donating in this election cycle?

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