Super PAC’s, the 2012 Election and You

By Patricia L Johnson

What happened at the Iowa caucus?

Poll after poll showed Mitt Romney leading the pack prior to the January 3, 2012 caucus with Ron Paul in second place and Rick Santorum in third place, at times trailing by double digits.

On December 28, 2011, five days prior to the caucus, Rasmussen Reports conducted a telephone survey of likely caucus participants which indicated Mitt Romney in first place, Ron Paul in second place and Rick Santorum in third. This was the third week in a row that indicated Mitt Romney was ahead. Rasmussen’s commentary on this survey indicated he felt a high turnout on caucus night would give Mitt Romney an even bigger win. As it turned out there were a record number of voters attending the Iowa caucuses, but a different winner.

On January 4, 2012 Mitt Romney was declared the winner by an eight vote margin, but by January 19, 2012 GOP party officials announced new results declaring Rick Santorum ahead by 34 votes. How did Iowa go from a sure-win for Mitt Romney to a win for Rick Santorum?

It’s possible the answer can be found in the District of Columbia’s Court of Appeals March 2010 decision on SpeechNow v. FEC This decision is similar to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in January of 2010 on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Where Citizens United gave corporations the right to spend unlimited funds on candidates in federal elections; the SpeechNow decision gave individuals the same rights and the flood gates were opened for political spending in the form of IE’s – independent expenditures.

IE’s are also known as super PAC’s (political action committees) and they are allowed to take in unlimited contributions and spend unlimited amounts of money for the sole purpose of electing or defeating a federal candidate as follows:

An independent expenditure is an expenditure for a communication "expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate that is not made in cooperation, consultation, or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, a candidate’s authorized committee, or their agents, or a political party or its agents." 11 CFR 100.16(a).

There are three separate types of Independent Expenditure groups as follows:

Iowa voters were bombarded with e-mails, online ads, robocalls, newspaper ads, radio ads and TV ads during the 10-day period prior to the January 3, 2012 caucuses – all in support of candidate Rick Santorum from the following two super PAC’s.

Two separate IE committees, Red, White and Blue Fund and Leaders for Families Super Pac, Inc. brought in total donations in the amount of $879,985.00. The majority of these donations came from two separate individuals. Foster Friess donated $381,000 while Dr. John Templeton donated $250,000. An additional $75,000 was donated to Leaders for Families Super Pac from the Red, White and Blue Fund.

In other words more than 80% of the total donations came from one of three places – two individuals and one super PAC.

How does the average voter even begin to compete with billionaires, millionaires, large corporations and unions in expressing preference for one candidate or another?

Red, White and Blue Fund and Leaders for Families Super Pac, Inc. are only two super PAC’s that are advocating Rick Santorum for President.

As of February 25, 2012 there were 320 Independent Expenditure Filers registered with the FEC for the 2012 election.

How many primaries are going to be bought by these Independent Filers for their candidate of choice?

© Patricia L Johnson

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