Super PACs anything but super for election process

Rob Burkett / Washburn Review

In 2008, Sen. Barack Obama had pledged to take public funding and shun the influence of what he referred to as, “the influence of special-interest money in politics.”

What a difference four years will make in the life of a politician.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no need for such organizations to exist or at least for them to not matter as much.

With the establishment of Priorities Action USA Action, advocates of the president are starting to ramp up their fundraising efforts in response to Republican efforts up to this point.

Karl Rove, former deputy chief-of-staff for the Bush administration, has been a busy bee helping to spearhead Republican fundraising. American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, both of which are Rove products, have raised $51 million in the past year.

This alarming move, at least to Democrats, has spurred a reversal of the president’s stance on the so called Super PACs.  

For those that don’t know, a Super PAC is a fundraising organization that is defined as an “independent expenditure only committee.” The organizations that fall under this classification have a few things that distinguish them.

First, they are allowed to take as much money in as they want from anyone who wants to donate.

Unlike with federal laws limiting donations directly to an election campaign to $2,500, these organizations are allowed to receive donations from corporations, unions and private citizens alike numbering in the tens of millions of dollars.

These organizations also cannot talk to campaigns except through the media. So while this money might be ostensibly raised to support a candidate, whatever activities they might fund are not regulated by the people who are running the actual campaigns.

In the 2008 election season, Obama had pledged originally to take public tax payer dollars, which under current campaign finance laws would have put a cap on how much money candidates can spend.

When it became apparent that his campaign could raise an almost limitless amount of money, Obama reversed course and ran for the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

With the increasing proliferation of the fundraising abilities of the two major parties, concern has to be raised over the undue influence of large special interest influences on political campaigns.

While I am a proponent of free speech and people being able to support a candidate they believe in, one has to pose the question, “when is too much, too much?”

In the world of money equaling free speech, is there a breaking point at which voters are eventually pushed out of the equation?

A sensible idea would be to adhere to a more egalitarian system of campaign finance laws. If someone wants to donate $1 billion to a campaign then that is fine. However, what is wrong however with simply saying that candidates can only spend a certain amount of money in a campaign?

Think of it as a salary cap, which seems as about as American as it gets considering the NFL operates under one currently. No one seems to mind having a level playing field financially in sports.

With politics once famously referred to as a “political bloodsport,” perhaps its time to think about the idea of curtailing the out of control spending that occurs in an arena that has a more profound effect on our day to day lives than anything which could occur on the gridiron.