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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Paul Rawlings: SUPER PAC’S PICKING POLITICIANS

  • The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 decision in the case of Citizens United on January 21, 2010 allowed unlimited corporate political spending as free speech
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  • Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam with assets of $37.9 billion greatly influenced “picking” the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.   When the Adelson’s believed Newt Gingrich would be the nominee they contributed $15 million to the Gingrich PAC “Winning Our Future.”  When it appeared Romney was the likely nominee, the Adelson’s  dropped Gingrich and contributed $30 million to the Romney PAC “Restore Our Future.”
     
    After the 2012 election Sheldon told The Wall Street Journal his political spending was not turned off and in fact  he would devote more resources to future elections.  “I don’t cry when I lose.” He said “There’s always a new hand coming up.”
     
    A lengthy list of  2016 aspiring Republican Presidential candidates are jockeying to win the Adelson millions in what some are calling the “Sheldon Primary.”  A senior GOP strategist said 2016 Republican Presidential hopefuls “are just falling at Sheldon’s feet because he represents the largest or second largest box of money.”
     
    The Adelson’s invited Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and John Kasich to their Venetian Casino for a week-end of GOP politics and Las Vegas opulence on March 27-30, 2014.  Rand Paul had a prior commitment and did not attend.  However, Bush, Christie, Walker and Kasich eagerly made the pilgrimage to Las Vegas and met behind closed doors with Adelson hoping to receive millions for their 2016 presidential campaigns.
     
    Republicans know under the current political landscape a handful of donors like Adelson can dramatically alter a presidential campaign with just a check or two.
     
    Super PAC’S first appeared in July 2010 and now number 1,310.
     
    Super PAC’S collected $828,224,700 in 2012 and the top SUPER PAC’S with amount collected in 2012 are:
    RESTORE OUR FUTURE $153,741,731.
    AMERICAN CROSSROADS $117,472,407.
    PRIORITIES USA ACTION $79,050,419.
    MAJORITY PAC $42,121.541.
    HOUSE MAJORITY PAC $35,844.951.
     
    In 1860 Abraham Lincoln spent $100,000 on his presidential campaign, Calvin Coolidge spent $4 million in 1924 and George W. Bush spent $367 million in 2004
    According to the Center For Responsive Politics total spending on behalf of President Obama in 2012 skyrocketed to more than $1.1 billion and the total spent on behalf of Mr. Romney was more than $1.0 billion.
     
     
    The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 decision in the case of Citizens United on January 21, 2010 allowed unlimited corporate political spending as free speech.  On April 2, 2014  in the case of McCutcheon the same 5 judges ruled individuals should be allowed unlimited political spending as free speech.
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    Justice Breyer in a dissenting opinion in the McCutcheon case said.  “If the court in Citizens United opened a door, today’s decision may well open a floodgate, so that a few large donations drown out the voices of the many.”
     
    Have  the Super PAC’S of  Adelson and other billionaires drowned out the voices of the unemployed, the disabled, the homeless, those living in poverty and those without adequate health care?   Was Justice Breyer correct—the Super PAC’S  have drowned out the voices of the poor and disabled in politics?
     
    Not one Super PAC’S was set up for the purpose of helping the poor and disabled.
     
    In the 2012 elections 80 to 90 percent of the Super PAC’S ads were negative, personal attacks.  Candidates seldom if ever discussed their qualifications for the office they sought or discussed their plans for solving the problems facing voters.
     
    Some believe when voters go to the polls they are not really voting FOR any of the candidates and too often they cast a vote AGAINST a candidate they have been made to hate.
     
    How will the billionaire Super PAC’S affect the 2016 elections?   More important how will the negative, personal attack Super PAC’S  ads affect your vote.
     
    Data compiled by the Sunlight Foundation show 11 PAC’S have spent more than $2.4 million in negative ads opposing Pryor and Cotton in their race for the U.S Senate in Arkansas.  Since August 2013 Little Rock TV stations have broadcast 4,017 political ads.
     
    In North Carolina the Koch Brothers have spent more than $7.2 million in the last year blanketing the state with television and radio ads attacking Democrat U.S. Senator Kay Hagan.
     
    Did Oscar Ameringer have it correct when he said “Politics is the art by which politicians obtain campaign contributions from the rich and votes from the poor on the pretext of protecting each from the other.”
     
    (Paul Rawlings of Heber Springs contributes his “progressive” viewpoint each week to the The Sun-Times.  He writes a blog at www.pauls-musings.blogspot.com)

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