What's good for Super PACs is bad for voters

Written by Tyler Creighton on March 5, 2013

Thumbnail or People's Pledge campaign

TAKE ACTION: Tell the Republican candidates to say no to Super PACs by signing a Peoples' Pledge.

Yesterday, the Republican candidates in the special election for Massachusetts Senate refused to negotiate an agreement to restrict Super PACs and other outside groups from influencing the Republican primary and general election. The Democratic candidates agreed to such an arrangement in February for the primary.

The people of Massachusetts are the biggest losers if the Republican candidates do not reconsider their positions and sign the agreement. Please tell them to reconsider. Here are just a few of the many reasons why: Heavy spending outside groups in our elections means more negative advertising, less disclosure of political donors, and an election bankrolled by just a handful of individuals.

First, Super PACs and dark money 501c(4)s are notorious for unleashing a barrage of negative advertisements. Of the $315 million spent by the top ten outside groups in the 2012 presidential election 93% of it went to negative advertisements. In contrast, the advertisements in Warren-Brown race, almost entirely void of outside group ads, were only 36% negative. If you thought the Warren-Brown race was negative, you better turn our TV off now (and keep it off) because once Super PACs at 501c(4)'s enter the picture advertising is nothing but negative.

Outside groups are also the driving force behind the growing veil of political donor secrecy. In 2012, a mere 41% of all outside money spent in federal elections was fully disclosed. Roughly $400 million was completely dark. All of the most expensive Congressional races in 2012 (excluding Massachusetts) also had the greatest concentration of dark money. By comparison, the Massachusetts Senate race had only $3.3 million (4% of all money spent) of undisclosed money,

Finally, outside groups further facilitated wealthy donor domination of the electoral process and the governing process. The top 32 Super PAC donors, giving an average of $9.9 million each, matched the $313 million that President Obama and Mitt Romney raised from all of their small donors combined" that's at least 3.7 million people giving less than $200. More than 93% of Super PAC money came in contributions of at least $10,000" from just 3,318 donors, or the equivalent of 0.0011% of the U.S. population.

Help protect our electoral process from a barrage of negative and deceptive advertisements, undisclosed campaign dollars, and wealthy donor domination. Tell the Republican candidates to say no to Super PACs by signing a Peoples' Pledge.

Note: Some of the information contained in this post is a sneak preview of an upcoming research report detailing the effects of the Peoples' Pledge. Stay tuned and check back soon!


Office: Common Cause National, Common Cause Massachusetts

Issues: Money in Politics, Money in Politics

Tags: Plea for a Pledge, People's Pledge

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