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Time to reform election law | Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

Now is the time to encourage changes in the election laws that have put a strangle hold on the election process in this country.

If you remember, just prior to the last presidential election, the super PACs (Political Action Committees) had been created from a series of federal court rulings, including the Supreme Court’s Citizens United case in 2010 that removed restrictions on corporate and union spending in elections. The groups were prohibited from coordinating directly with individual campaigns but many of them were staffed by longtime supporters of the candidates in a thinly veiled attempt to appear non-partisan. The super PACs were not subject to the $2,500 cap on donations to a candidate’s campaign, and a number of the super PACs had individual contributions of more than $1 million.

Super PACs served the purpose of bringing out the worst in American politics not by lifting up candidates but by tearing them down. The changes also had the effect of shielding donors until a time when many candidates affected by their assaults had dropped out of the race and provided cover to other candidates while the super PACs went on “seek and destroy” missions to neutralize competing candidates while avoiding fair handed election transparency.

The financial results from the 2012 federal election proved to be the most expensive election in U.S. history. More than $6 billion was spent by federal campaigns, not only by the super PACs but by the political nonprofits and the party committees.

Here is the split out of how the money was spent according to the Center for Responsive Politics:

• Presidential candidates.... $1,377,000,000

• House candidates............. $1,010,000,000

• Senate candidates............ $720,000,000

• Party committees...............$1,800,000,000

• Outside groups...................$1,210,000,000

Unless action is taken very soon to correct this trend we will see our country and those who seek to control her manipulating our elections once again by pitting us against each other and attempting to destroy all but their chosen bought and paid for candidates.

Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@newmarketpressvt.com or dan@denpubs.com.

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