Democratic SuperPAC highlights need for reform

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  • Dale Eisman

Today’s news that House Democrats are creating a “super PAC” to shake campaign money out of corporations, trade groups, unions and wealthy Americans is another sad reminder of the failure of Congress and President Obama to fix our broken campaign finance system, Common Cause said today.

“We’re in the opening stages of a new political arms race and all the guns are aimed at our democracy,” said Bob Edgar, president of the non-profit government watchdog group. “The big-money interests that are targets of super PAC fundraising see political donations as investments; like all investors they expect a return on their money and all too often they get it at the expense of the rest of us.”

Super PACs proliferated last year, after the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that such political groups can accept unlimited donations and use the money to support or oppose particular candidates. The decision prompted “independent” groups to put nearly $300 million into last year’s Congressional races.

About half that money was funneled through non-profit groups that do not have to disclose their donors. “House Majority PAC,” the super PAC being created by House Democrats, has promised to operate under rules that require disclosure but other groups aligned with the two major political parties are gearing up to raise hundreds of millions in secret contributions for the 2012 campaigns.

“As a former member of Congress, I understand that today’s campaigns are expensive and it’s not realistic to expect candidates from any political party to disarm and be less competitive,” Edgar said. “But members of Congress should be working to fix our broken system to restore voters’ voices in our elections. We must repair the presidential public financing system, and we need to change the way we pay for congressional campaigns so candidates can raise the money they need through small donations from constituents, instead of relying on wealthy special interests which want something in return.”