It is clear that even the conservative dominated Supreme Court did not realize the Pandoras Box they were opening when they ruled in Citizens United to allow corporations and individuals to give unlimited money in elections.
From the very opinions of the majority judges, especially justice Kennedy’s, they stated that ALL such donations would be publicly known. That there would be no hiding of who, or what, is supporting a candidate. But as we now see these Super Pacs are using 501(c)(4) (which are supposed to be social welfare organizations NOT allowed to be involved in politics) and 501(c)(6) tax exempt groups to hide where the millions are coming from.
The Supreme Court had also clearly said that these Super Pacs were to be completely independent from the candidates. Which is not what we have been seeing. In fact they are being created and run by friends, family members, former employees, longtime fundraisers, etc. They are deeply intertwined with the candidates despite the Supreme Courts intentions. The supreme courts intention was not to give the candidates another machine- but to allow corporations to promote their own interests.
And then despite the supposed legall required complete seperation of candidate and super pac we saw in South Carolina Newt Gingrich saying publicly “I can’t coordinate with my superPAC, but I can speak to them publicly, and I am speaking to them right now, and I am asking them to take down certain ads or to at least correct the text of them”
And here’s another unintended consequence. Private individual donations. For many years the limit was $1,000. McCain/Feingold raised it $2,000, then adjusted for inflation it became $2,500. But the very wealthiest in our nation- the multi-multi millionaires and the billionaires have always been free to put in as much money as they wanted- they were free to produce and bu their own ads for candidattes- they just had to identify themselves on the campaign ads (I’m so and so and I approve this message”). And guess what- not once in our history have they been willing to do so. But now we have seen single donors contributing tens of millions of dollars, and in the case of Newt Gingrich one single donor (and his wife giving 10 million) saving his campaign when it was out of money.
And let us not forget- the FEC- the Federal Elections Committee which is supposed to be the watchdog over election issues- is deadlocked. 3 republicans and 3 democrats. With 4 votes required to do anything. And 5 of the 6 are serving expired terms- because Republicans in Congress refuse to approve any of Obamas nominations- now matter how centrist they are.
The amount of money in this election cycle is staggering, especially the money Romney is raising. The wealthy and corporations are exercising their new found “right” to buy their way into government.
I highly recommend: Interview with Trevor Potter, who among other things served on the FEC in the 90’s, and served as general counsel to John McCain’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008.