If Citizens United was the Big Bang of a new era of money in politics, here’s the universe it formed: rapidly expanding super-PACs and nebulous 501(c) groups exerting gravitational pull on the 2012 election. Mouse over a “planet” to peer into its funding and top donors. Sizes are based on latest reported revenues (if disclosed). This data is live—come back for weekly updates.
On Sunday, Citizens United turned two. In case you’re not familiar with the birthday kid, that’s the 2010 Supreme Court decision that ruled that corporations can pour unlimited money into groups supporting or opposing candidates. Happy birthday, you little super-PAC-loving brat!
(Image: Anti-Citizens United activists project dollar signs onto the Supreme Court over the weekend.)
Republican strategist Carl Forti has been described, variously, as “Karl Rove’s Karl Rove” (Politico), “one of the smartest people in politics you’ve never heard of” (Karl Rove), and “the Alexander the Great of the Republican independent expenditure world” (Republican operative Bradley Blakeman). You can add one more to the list: President Obama and the Democrats’ worst nightmare in 2012. A pioneer in the post-Citizens United world of super-PACs and dark money, Forti is one of the lead architects of the GOP’s outside-spending strategy and an operative who has for years tested the boundaries of campaign finance law.
"We hope the Commission is able to begin with the Supreme Court’s definition of Non-Coordinated as “expenditures … made totally independently of the candidate and his campaign” in Buckley v. Valeo, and end up with a ruling that allows outside groups to produce ads with the candidate’s cooperation, themes, and message. That will prove to our nation’s critics that America is a country that still makes something: strained rationalizations."
leftoftumblr: I think that info-graphic is misleading because of the note at the bottom...
These donations come not from the organizations and businesses themselves but from their employees and employees families.
Not to say there isn't a shit load of corporate money in politics, I just think this info-graphic is a bit misleading. What do you guys think?
Thanks for asking! It’s a great question.
As seasoned followers of political dark money — in fact, it’ll be a greater focus of our news crew going into the 2012 campaign season — we’ve often seen that it’s common practice for upper- and mid-level executives to donate to a corporation’s preferred candidates individually. Sometimes it’s an innocent act of free will. But more often, it’s a legal move to get around the caps on direct corporate donations to campaigns. And sometimes, pressure is brought to bear on those employees to make campaign contributions…or they’re reimbursed for them by the company, acts which are illegal.
These are some of the “soft-money” contributions you hear about all the time! And because the practice is common enough to be observed, we’ll generally look at employee donations along with corporate contributions, for the sake of thoroughness.