Super PAC

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How Super PACs Flout U.S. Election Laws

super PACs

The fundraising machines known as super PACs have few rules to follow, but they flout even those.

From illegal donations from federal contractors to coordination between the super PACs and the campaigns, the flagrant violations of U.S. election law grow more pronounced with each election cycle.

Here's how the super PACs get away with it - and why the lawbreaking will only get worse...

Why a Ted Cruz Super PAC Gave $500,000 to Carly Fiorina

Ted Cruz super PAC

A Ted Cruz super PAC made an odd donation back in June 2015. It was in support of one of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's main Republican opponents at the time. And now there's a conspiracy it was a part of a cover up for Cruz's alleged sex scandal.

The super PAC Keep the Promise I, which supports Ted Cruz, gave $500,000 to support former tech executive Carly Fiorina's Super PAC, Carly for America. The Washington Post first broke the story back in late July.

Super PACs that explicitly support a candidate almost never give in support of other rival candidates. The donation was so uncanny that the Federal Election Commission even flagged the activity.

Why the Hillary Clinton Campaign Finance Plan Is Uncomfortably Hypocritical

Hillary Clinton

The specifics of the Hillary Clinton campaign finance plan are out. Her focus is solely on restricting super PAC power. Not surprisingly, she’s going after super PACs.

Thing is, Clinton has cashed in $20.3 million from super PACs so far in her 2016 presidential run – more than any other Dem and more than all but two GOP contenders.

Here's a look at Hillary Clinton's campaign finance plan - and why it raises eyebrows...

2016 Election Campaign Contributions Total $250 Million So Far - Here's the Breakdown

campaign contributions

As of Aug. 31, election campaign contributions for the 2016 presidential race total roughly $250 million.

That's the amount we gleaned from the most recent data. The site categorized the amount raised by "campaign committees and outside groups" for each Democrat and Republican candidate. It includes Super PACs, PACs, 501(c) Groups, campaign committees, and more.

Here's a breakdown of the cash each candidate has brought in so far from these sources...

What Is a Super PAC?

what is a super PAC

What it a super PAC? According to a 2012 Washington Post/Pew Research poll, only 40% of Americans know the answer to this question...

So if you are one of the millions of Americans who can't answer this question, don't worry; you're not alone.

Everything you need to know is right here...

How Super PACs Are Choosing Your Next President

It's no secret that the rich use their money to influence the ballot, but in this year's election cycle they have a created a new, more insidious way to do it.

They are called super PACs and they are choosing your next President.

Super PACs (political action committees) have drawn attention in recent months because of their outsized influence on the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

Case in point: One super PAC that supports former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney called Restore Our Future spent more than $3 million in Iowa attacking former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich with great effect.

The month-long blitz of negative ads played a major role in knocking Gingrich from first to fourth in the polls. As late as Nov. 30, Gingrich lead in Iowa with 31% to Romney's 17% according to a New York Times/CBS poll.

However, when the caucuses were held on Jan. 3, Gingrich limped to the finish line with just 13% of the vote while Romney took 25%.

But the Romney campaign is not the only one benefiting from super PACs. Every major presidential candidate has a super PAC working on their behalf

These organizations can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, with the only restriction being that the super PAC cannot "coordinate" with the candidate.

In a super PAC, individual donations of $500,000 to a $1 million or more are not uncommon.

"The sky's the limit,"Columbia Law Schoolcampaign-finance expert Richard Briffault told USA Today. "We are back to the pre-Watergate era of unlimited amounts of money."

Although the law does require disclosure of the donors and how much they give, the use of tax-exempt entities has created loopholes that donors can hide behind.

After a brief period when the Internet made it possible for less well-heeled candidates to mount successful grassroots fundraising campaigns by tapping large numbers of small donors, the super PACs have dramatically increased the ability of the wealthy to sway elections.

"It's just proven to be a vehicle for getting around contribution limits," Michael Malbin, a scholar at the Campaign Finance Institute, told The Washington Post. "It's made for people who've already maxed out."

Created by a 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, super PACs provide what may be the most devious way yet around 40-year-old campaign finance laws designed to prevent unlimited fundraising.

In fact, the country is worse off because of the ill-conceived precaution that the candidates cannot coordinate with the super PACs.

Instead of preventing bad behavior, the new rule actually enables it.

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