Tuesday, February 2, 2016

PACs -- Political Action Crooks? Cronies? Clowns?

Entertaining politics - your donations may not go where you think.  Political action committees (PACs and SuperPacs) take in much more than they spend supporting (or opposing) candidates.  It can be a profitable business. (Reading the end of year reports at the Federal Election Commission is extraordinarily tedious, but proves the point.)

In a study of conservative political action committees, these 10 took in $54 million in one year: they paid themselves $50 million and spent $3.6 million on supporting the elections. That's less than a tenth that went to the actual purpose of the donations.

That $50 million came from gullible contributors hoping to make a difference, preserve national values, save the life of an unborn child. The PACs even raised money for candidates like Condoleezza Rice who had no interest in running. The PACs used the money for themselves, of course. It's not illegal, unfortunately, just unethical, immoral, dishonest, deceptive, conscienceless fraud, and deserving of more than harsh words.

Imagine the good work that $50M could have accomplished through responsible service organizations like World Vision or the Salvation Army. We could have effectively helped a few thousand families for ten years with education, healthcare, and food assistance. It could have made a difference.

Smart Lady  Boooooo
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Other Smart Lady  Bingo
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Smart Guy Yikes. Where did you find this info?
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Old Guy Multiple sources. Rightwing News commissioned a study of 17 “big name conservative groups.” Many of those groups have already been identified as sleazy in numerous reports, but the conservative website admits many of those were likely shrugged off by GOP donors and activists.

“The problem with the articles that have come out so far is that most of them have come from liberal outlets and have only discussed limited aspects of a few organizations,” wrote John Hawkins, of Rightwing News. “That naturally led people to wonder if they were reading hit pieces.”

The 170-page report showed the vast majority of money spent last year by prominent conservative political action committees was “siphoned off to vendors, wasted, and just plain old pocketed by people in these PACs.”

Two Super PACs – Tea Party Army and Republicans for Immigration Reform – gave no money at all to candidates through independent expenditures or direct contributions, the study found.

Eight other groups – including The National Draft Ben Carson for President, Tea Party Express, SarahPAC, and Tea Party Patriots – gave less than 10 percent of their expenditures to candidates.

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Old Guy It's been going on for a while, thus the term 'scam pac'.


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Old Guy Fewer than one in seven of the roughly 300 super PACs and “hybrid” PACs that spent money in 2013 put funds toward calling for the election or defeat of a federal candidate, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis of recent FEC filings.

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Old Guy Campaign finance expert Paul S. Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center warns —  when donating to PACs and superPACs, it is really “donor beware.”  In the campaign finance culture that the Supreme Court and broken Federal Election Commission have created, donors may find that their political donations are doing little other than enriching political consultants and vendors.
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Smart Guy Wow. I figured there was certainly some abuse.... but not this bad. It's like payday loans, except slightly shadier.
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Smart Guy I guess a "Send Smart Guy to Hawaii Super PAC" isn't all that out of the question. unsure emoticon
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These are the PACs that call the retiree's list of registered voters and solicit support, promising to stand firm on the voter's behalf.  Generally, they live on small donations from many.

The above money players are not to be confused with single-donor PACs where rich people can buy more influence.  That's the other extreme of our broken law and election regulations.

Both are adequate reason to be dissatisfied.
There are more than 4,000 registered PACs.

In 1907, Congress banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in the wake of the robber baron-era scandals. In 1947, the ban was formally applied to corporate expenditures and extended to cover labor unions.

In 1974, Congress enacted limits on individual contributions to federal candidates and political committees in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United case removed the ban, holding that expenditures could not be limited, and that corporations could give unlimited amounts to other groups independently from the supported candidate.

The birth of the Super PAC legalized corruption in our elections.

On the subject:  CNN, Huffington Post, Salon, DailyFinance