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Super PACs harm the political process

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas for the Community Newspaper Publisher’s Summit. It’s always interesting when you can share issues and concerns with folks from around the country. One popular issue that repeatedly comes up in conversation — especially from folks in cities like Las Vegas where over the top spending is extremely evident to this small town boy — is that of the Super PAC and those behind their funding. One example includes casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife, who are bank rolling the PAC of Republican candidate Newt Gingrich to the tune of $10 million and climbing.

Being super rich has its privileges, but in a democracy such as we have in the United States, being that rich should not allow you to sway voter opinion to the point that one person can buy an election. So far this election season we’ve seen these Super PACs primarily controlled by a limited few, pouring millions into advertising campaigns bashing opponents not of their liking. Of course, once the party race is ultimately decided and these groups have assassinated the character of all the candidates, they’ll kiss and make up, go into round two and do it all over again, this time pointing their venom against the opposite party nominee.

So far I haven’t told you anything new. My point is I haven’t spoken to anyone outside of politics who thinks these Super PACs nor the control they give to those funding them has any place in the American political landscape. Based not only on casual conversation but from reader emails and letters responding to previous columns on the subject, it seems very clear that no one favors this license to sway voter influence. Even President Obama referred to this level of action as a “threat to our democracy.”

Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@denpubs.com.

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