Since the SCOTUS ruling on Citizens United, it has been so interesting to see how our campaign finance has changed. We now have candidates who are being funded by just a handful of people. We have Newt Gingrich who would not be in the GOP primary race right now if it wasn’t for billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his family funding his super PAC. Mitt Romney’s campaign raised $18 million in the last half of 2011 from just 200 donors, and over $30 million throughout 2011. Jon Huntsman’S super PAC received over 70% of its funding from his father, Huntsman, Sr.
Despite your party affiliation, this should be upsetting to you. These very few 0.5 percenters in our country are not giving this money to these candidates because they feel charitable. You have to ask yourself, if they do manage to get their candidate elected, what will they want.
The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch are two of the biggest spenders for the Republican party. Despite their attempts to stay in the shadows and not draw attention to themselves, they have been making a lot of news in the last few years (most notably for their creation of the tea party movement). Last weekend they hosted a three-day conference in Coachella Valley in which several hundred deep-pocketed donors attended. Among the most notable attendees were Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Sheldon Adelson. At the end of the event, the Koch brothers and their guests had promised to pledge $100 million in order to defeat President Obama.
Ed Pilkington of The Guardian wrote about the Kochs and their supporters.
Though the Kochs have already stamped their influence on the American right, their impact to date looks like small beer compared with their ambitious plans for 2012. According to Kenneth Vogel of Politico, the brothers intend to use their leverage among billionaire conservatives to pump more than $200m into the proceedings, focusing in particular on the presidential race.
Their potential to sway the electorate through the sheer scale of their spending has been greatly enhanced by Citizens United, last year’s controversial ruling by the US supreme court that opened the floodgates to corporate donations in political campaigns. The ruling allows companies to throw unlimited sums to back their chosen candidates, without having to disclose their spending.
That makes 2012 the first Citizens United presidential election, and in turn offers rich pickings to the Koch brothers. They have already made clear their intentions. At their most recent billionaires’ gathering in Vail, Colorado in June, Charles Koch described next year’s presidential contest as “the mother of all wars”. A tape of his private speech obtained by Mother Jones said the fight for the White House would be a battle “for the life or death of this country”.
As for President Obama, we do have a bit of good news. Reuters recently reported that in the FEC financial disclosures released last week, it showed in 2011 his campaign raised 60 percent of the funds, or $58.5 million, from donors who gave less than $200.
We have entered into a new wild west style of politics where for some of our candidates there is just a small group of people who fund their campaigns and the rise of super PACs who now can have access to unlimited funds and can use those funds in unlimited ways in order to sway our elections. For the middle and lower classes, both Republican and Democrat, this is not a promising sign for our survival.