Opening the lid on the dirty politics of Super PACs
If there are two things that a politician loves; they are the acquisition of power and the possibility of abusing it. Super PACs (Political Action Committees) are now an integral part of American politics. They allow the political class to wage unethical and dirty wars against the opponent without actually taking responsibility for those attacks. The shady dealings are hidden through arms-length organizations.
Another problem that has been associated with Super PACs is the entrenchment of money in the political system. There are millions of dollars that are exchanging hands across the states with limited scrutiny. Raising money is now a prerequisite to becoming a President of the United States, a Governor, a Senator or a Congressman (and woman). The Supreme Court opened Pandora’s Box when it officially sanctioned these activities.
The best politics that money can buy
The case of Nevada is instructive. It is 2nd only to one in terms of Super PAC donations. A single household (Sheldon and Miriam Adelson) managed to bring in $25 million.  What do these people expect in return and who is going to pay them back? Are they in a position to influence or even corrupt a powerful politician? These are considerations that Americans need to look at.
Ironically not all the money raised can lead to success.
The casino mogul who supported Newt Gingrich will feel a little hard done by when he considers the fact that his protégée pulled out of the Presidential Race amidst mounting debts. It just goes to show that sometimes money cannot but anyone popularity or political gravitas. Nevertheless it can wield influence.
The fallacy of independent Super PACs is also galling. Most of these are nothing more than interest groups who are coming together to shield the chosen politician from taking responsibility for their political attacks. Although these Political Action Committees cannot make contributions to parties or campaigns, they can engage in political spending which is virtually unlimited.
The big lie is that they are independent. A casual observer will know the message and the intended target. They can also work out the beneficiary of those attacks. In a move away from the traditional PACs, the Super PACs can raise cash from different sources. These include unions, corporations, interest groups and even individuals. The lack of legal limit opens up the possibility of abusing the process.
The muddy world of cutthroat politics
It was recently reported that the Super PACs had hit the $100 million point in terms of their expenditure. They are likely to grow even bigger as Mitt Romney attempts to unseat Barack Obama from the Presidency. Outside spending is hard to control and that means that the process is ripe with loopholes that can be exploited by a sly politician looking for a prime opportunity.
Currently there are 26 party affiliated PACs. Less than half of them (11) have started spending in any race. There are another 158 non-super PAC outside groups of which 135 have started their spending. The total number of Super PACs currently stands at 534 and only 78 of them have spent any money. The voting public had better prepare for a flood of negative ads.
Although politics is known as a ‘dirty game’, campaign finance laws have attempted to clean up some of the dirt. However they are likely to send this effort into obscurity. Many of these organizations are so outrageous in their advertisements that it is not even clear that they are not spoofs. Free speech means that all sorts of nonsense is published without restraint.
Amy Showalter is the founder of The Showalter Group in Cincinnati and she describes the ethos behind these campaigns: "Money is free speech. … We speak with our pocketbooks for a lot of things." Voters are therefore encouraged to vote for those people who can raise a lot of money. Does it mean that these people are uniquely suited to political life? The corruption of the political system is going to get worse before it gets better.
1. N. Debevec,” Politics 2012: Super year for Super PACs”, 20th May 2012, UPI, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/05/20/Politics-2012-Super-year-for-S...