The Associated Press and the Washington Post described today what many predicated after the Supreme Court in Citizens United knocked down most restrictions on corporate spending in elections: political groups with a pro-corporate agenda and little transparency have flooded the airways. Jim Kuhnhenn and Liz Sidoti of the AP write that “groups allied with the Republican Party and financed in part by corporations and millionaires have amassed a crushing 6-1 advantage in television spending, and now are dominating the airwaves in closely contested districts and states across the country.” Many of these organizations, like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Job Security, can take unlimited amounts of money from both individual and corporate donors without having to disclose the sources of their funding.
In the Washington Post, Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam describe the rapid growth of so-called “super PACs.” Such super PACs have “spent $4 million in the last week alone and are registering at the rate of nearly one per day.” The foremost super PAC today is the right-wing group American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS’ sister organization. Although such committees must disclose their donors, “unlike regular political action committees, there are no limits on how much money can be raised or spent. And unlike some other types of committees, super PACs can explicitly urge voters to oppose or support a candidate in an election.”
American Crossroads, which was founded by Repulican patriarchs Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, has received huge contributions from a handful of wealthy individuals and corporations. Although they cannot coordinate with campaigns, “In two days last week, American Crossroads’ super PAC reported spending $2.8 million on ads attacking Democratic candidates, including Rep. Joe Sestak (Pa.), Jack Conway (Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.).” With more and more money poured into politics as a result of the Citizens United ruling, the burst in television advertising in the 2010 midterm election is just the beginning, as many of these outside groups prepare for the presidential election in 2012.