Friday, March 30, 2012
Thanks to the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Comission Super PACs have come to dominate the 2012 presidential election process.
Super PACs are allowed to accept unlimited donations from corporations, unions, and individuals and to make political ads supporting or attacking any candidate.
Super PACs have to disclose their donors and cannot coordinate with campaigns, but as Stephen Colbert has shown, these rules don't really have any teeth.
Colbert, with the help of his lawyer Trevor Potter and Comedy Central cohort John Stewart, has worked to satirize the Super Pac movement. He has shown how little regulation and how much power these groups have.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to put this genie back in the bottle. Even though Colbert has made the ridiculousness of Super PACs evident, the groups continue to proliferate. Politicians, especially Mitt Romney, revel in the money saved on ads, and many political groups have gone the route of fighting Super PACs with Super PACs instead of denouncing the Citizen's United decision.
President Obama initially opposed the concept, which was great. However, he has since given his tacit approval to a Super PAC that supports him: http://obamasuperpac.com/. I really wish the President had not given in, even though it may be true that he needs his own PAC to compete with the many republican Super PACs working against him. Colbert of course satirized Obama's Super PAC decision:
Colbert's most recent effort was announced on his show last night. He will be franchising his Super PAC on college campuses nationwide. I applaud him for continuing to lampoon Super PACs (especially showing that only one document is needed to register a new Stephen Colbert Super PAC franchise).
My only worry is that Colbert is making Super PACs too cool; I want the awesome t-shirt and for Stephen to come to ND, and that is almost making me forget the harm that can be done by Super PACs not as innocuous as Colbert's.
It may be that Super PACs won't go away until we make them; either by knocking some sense (in the form of new judges) into the Supreme Court, by creating comperehensive election funding reform, or both.
Personally, I like the idea of public election funding that would force the candidates to separate themselves based on the issues rather than their money.
Whatever we do, we need to get rid of Super PACs. Hopefully, Colbert will keep making them look silly, the truth about Super PACs will get out to the people, and they will eventually be an embarrassing memory.