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This is how Corporations Win US Elections 


Donald Trump

For Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, outside groups have raised more money than their own organizations.

The use of SuperPACs to finance a political campaign is not new. What is new is their heavier influence in sustaining any political campaign without having to explain where the money comes from.

The rules to finance a political campaign changed six years ago but it is only now that the United States is beginning to discover its consequences.

Since 2010, independent groups can raise money without limits and are not required to disclose the origin of such a money.

That same year, an avalanche of conservative candidates supported by this new form of financing helped Republicans regain the majority in the House of Representatives.

Two years later money raised through SuperPACs led the triumphal runs of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. In 2016, the shadowy organizations had raised more cash than proceeds from some candidates.

Americans will never know the source of much of that money. It is ‘dark money’ from hidden funds that now determine who gets elected.

Democrat Bernie Sanders has made the Super PACs one of the arguments of his campaign against his rival, Hillary Clinton.

Sanders accused the former senator of being tied to money from Wall Street and boasts that he has none of these groups associated with his candidacy. But the real phenomenon of new forms of revenue is influencing also the Republican race.

For Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, outside groups have raised more money than their own organizations.

Take the following data collected by the Center for Public Integrity as an example:

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 18.06.20

Source: Center for Public Integrity.

“As 24 candidates vie to be the next U.S. president, campaigns and allied groups have collected at least $837 million and spent at least $529 million to support their bids. Super PACs, able to accept unlimited amounts from any donor, and other non-campaign groups fueled in part by loosened restrictions on political money have raised at least 47% of the total,” explains the organization in its website.

In the US elections, the rivalry goes beyond the political issues. Both Clinton and Bush are fighting for the largest amounts of dollars from SuperPACs. While Clinton has raised $163 million, Bush has gotten $150 million.

Source: Center for Public Integrity.

Source: Center for Public Integrity.

 

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are not too far behind, with $90 million and $80 million respectively. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders raised $70 million, and Ben Carson $67.7 million.

Bush has the Money but not the Votes

Bush is the candidate with the most money, but while the Super PACs that support him have raised some $118 million, the former governor has received only 31.9 million for his campaign.

Hillary Clinton, however, has $116 million, plus another $47.9 coming from outside groups.

Some people in the American press alerted since last autumn about “families who want to control the campaign”, “the biggest challenge facing states” or “unknown spending funds dominating the electoral campaign.”

Since the judgment of the Supreme in 2010, known as the ‘Citizens United’, US organizations can be created to raise funds for a candidate and operate outside the official campaign.

While a citizen can only donate up to $ 5,400 to a presidential candidate, money coming from SuperPACs have no limits. It is this new reality that has taken away the power to elect a politician from the hands of an average American to the laps of corporations and elite donors.

The SuperPACs have a strong influence over who is elected and who is not, as the Federal Election Commission states that whenever operations are not directly coordinated with a campaign, they are not required to disclose the origin of money. Most candidates are notably owned by bankers and multinational corporations, which are the high rollers behind the SuperPACs themselves.

As amazing as it may seem, The Supreme Court has argued in its statement that the operation of SuperPACs prevents corruption because the groups do not operate in “cooperation” with the candidates, but did not specify where the boundary is when it comes to “coordinating” the issuance of donations between a SuperPAC and a campaign. There is no clarity in what would entail a breach of confidence in the operation of SuperPACs and their relation to the candidates.

It is in that gray area where much of the most influential groups operate.

To its own credit, The New York Times, which has already endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, has pointed out that corporations and rich people have never been so free to give so much money to a campaign. The newspaper has published a list of 158 families who have distributed more than 176 million dollars in the first phase the campaign.

Their organizations follow the model established by Charles and David Koch in 2010, when they opened a new avenue of influence by funneling millions of dollars to the campaigns of several candidates.

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About the author: Luis R. Miranda

Luis R. Miranda is an award-winning journalist and the founder & editor of The Real Agenda News. His career spans over 23 years in every form of news media. He writes about environmentalism, education, technology, science, health, immigration and other current affairs. Luis has worked as on-air talent, news reporter, television producer, and news writer.

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