Tracing Super PACs: Follow the Money and Realize Citizens United Must be Dropped


The wisest aphorism of the 20th century was Deep Throat’s “Follow the money.” You can learn a great deal about the players in a presidential campaign if you examine campaign, PAC – and, now – Super PAC expenditures.

I spent some time playing with ProPublica’s addictive interactive graphic the 200 biggest recipients of spending by the major campaigns and most of the major super PACs and ended up with more questions than answers:

Why did the Gingrich, Paul, Romney and Santorum campaigns donate over $437,000 to the Iowa Republican Party – and no other state GOP organizations? Did the amounts given have something to do with the disputed order of their finish in the Iowa Caucus in January? Amounts: Paul: $230,000; Santorum: $116,000; Gingrich: $40,000; Romney: $31,000.

Why did the Romney Campaign give $264,000 to the Free and Strong America PAC? As far as I was able to determine; no other funds passed between any other campaigns and PACs or Super PACs. I believe that’s because it may be illegal.

And then, there’s this: Freedom Works for America PAC collected over $900,000 in the period measured by ProPublica and gave over half of it to another Super PAC: Freedomworks,  Dick Armey’s Tea Party, astroturfed by the Kochs, and I already know what they’re all about!

So there’s alleged hanky-panky among the PACmen. I have filed those items under To Be Followed Up, and note that most of the expenditures seem to follow the rules – unless those trendy, gibberishy corporate names hide shells that funnel the dough into places it shouldn’t go. The reversal of Citizens’ United looks more attractive all the time.

I also note that some well-known corporate entities seem to have made out like bandits: ADP (the payroll processing corporation) received over $7 million from the Obama and the Gingrich Campaigns. And nobody leaves the house without the American Express card: over $6.5 million from five campaigns and 3 PACs was given to this company!

Now, let’s pivot 90 degrees and follow the back trail of some of that money – namely what you donated to your candidate or to a PAC or super PAC to support whatever efforts you think need supporting. Of course, all campaigns keep lists of their donors. That’s why you get all that direct mail that you don’t particularly want for every candidate and cause your party funds. These files are a matter of public record but until the advent of social networking, they were seldom MADE public. Just as your vote was considered private; so were your donations. That is no longer the case.  

Since the 2010 midterms, the Huffington Post has published these data under its FUNDRACE tab; where, not only can donations to candidates be traced by profession and locality; if you’re connected to social media, your dollars can be tracked right back to your doorstep. This is the brainchild of Aristotle, a political research corporation.

I no longer donate money to any campaign; I volunteer my time. I also severed my Huffington Post/ Facebook connection and never allowed PolicyMic access to my Facebook information for the same reason. I have communicated multiple times with Huffpo, Aristotle, MoveOn, and other solicitors of donations, regarding my concern that some yahoo with a beef could show up at my front door through the use of this interactive data toy…but to no avail. Now, Republicans, Democrats and Indys alike…I ask for some lower-case “citizens united” support to go viral and to end this ill-considered and possibly dangerous use of personal data!