Super PACs not so super

Andrew Justus

The impact of super PACs are certainly being felt during this election cycle, as the Michigan presidential primary meets its planned conclusion Tuesday we are getting a free lesson on how these new beasts will shape electoral politics. We are seeing how a clan of wealthy men can greatly improve the chances of frontrunner candidates like Mitt Romney; and how a big donor can keep a fledgling candidate like Newt Gingrich afloat single-handedly.

According to the Federal Election Commission, five donors supplied a quarter of all contributions to the GOP presidential race during the month of January, with most of the money earmarked for super PACs.

While many proponents of campaign finance reform have cried foul with regard for the loose rules surrounding super PACS, groups allowed to receive unlimited donations but cannot theoretically coordinate with a candidate, candidates themselves have been voicing complaints about the groups. Gingrich, during a debate that lead up to the Iowa Caucus, vowed not to air any attack ads, a promise he kept. Super PACs supporting him picked up the slack though, tearing into his opponents while allowing Gingrich to keep his hands clean.

Rick Santorum, however, experienced the effects of a super PAC backfire. Santorum had to explain his way out of a joke made by his super PAC’s largest donor, who suggested that having women keep aspirin between their knees was an effective form of birth control.

The most popular critic of super PACs, Stephen Colbert, created his own organization to showcase the lax regulations now running rampant with campaign finance. On his show, Colbert has shown how the prohibition against coordinating with candidates is simply a joke. He handed off control of CSP to fellow fake news anchor Jon Stewart while on the air, then openly told Stewart how to run the super PAC while a lawyer for CSP stood by and affirmed that everything the two had done was indeed legal.

With such ridiculous rules governing these groups that clearly affect elections why keep super PACs? People don’t like them, candidates don’t like them and they give the wealthiest individuals an even larger say in how our government is run.