September 17th, 2012
08:46 PM ET

The Super PAC economy: 2012 is the most expensive election ever

One problem Mitt Romney doesn't have is raising money. The Super PAC supporting him has already raked in more than 65-million-dollars. That's more than outside groups in total spent at this point in the 2008 election.

CNN Contributor John Avlon is writing a series of reports on the influx of cash into this year's campaigns for the Daily Beast in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics.

John Avlon is also a CNN contributor and member of the OutFront political strike team.

The Super-PAC Economy

Beneath the still struggling American economy, there is a gold rush going on. An unprecedented $5.8 billion will be spent in this election cycle, $2.5 billion in the presidential election alone. Much of this money will be spent not by campaigns, but by two kinds of outside organizations: super PACs and social-welfare groups, also known as 501(c)(4)s.

This isn’t just democracy. It’s big business. “This is the greatest windfall that ever happened for political operatives in American history,” says Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “It allows them to make extraordinary amounts of money for work whose effectiveness is hard to determine.”

Thanks to Citizens United and other court decisions, super PACs and 501(c)(4)s now enjoy the ability to accept and spend unlimited contributions. With the final stretch of the campaign about to start in earnest, The Daily Beast—in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics—has taken a detailed look at just how profoundly this influx of money is reshaping our politics. Today we’ll provide an overview of the new world of campaign spending and look specifically at how it’s allowing some consultants to get very rich. Wednesday, we’ll take a closer look at 501(c)(4)s. And Thursday, we’ll examine how government regulations are failing to help. (Click here to see an interactive timeline of the rise in 501(c)(4) spending.)


Filed under: Campaign Finance • Economy • News • Politics
soundoff (No Responses)

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.