Auctioning Democracy

The Rise of Super Pacs & the 2012 Election
Released by: NHPIRG


New Report Released: Auctioning Democracy: The Rise of Super PACs and the 2012 Election

Concord – Today NHPIRG Education Fund and Demos released a new analysis of the funding sources for the campaign finance behemoths, Super PACs. The findings confirmed that since their inception in 2010, Super PACs have been primarily funded by a small segment of very wealthy individuals and business interests, with a small but significant amount of funds coming from secret sources.

“The presidential race had barely gotten off the ground when it became clear that 2012 would be the year of the Super PAC.  The millions of dollars raised and spent by these strange and powerful court-created entities have created a kind of parallel campaign,” says Blaire Bowie, Democracy Advocate for US PIRG and coauthor of the report.   

We do not yet have nearly the full picture of how Super PACs have affected and will continue to affect the 2012 elections.  Right now, we only have a complete picture of the year 2011.  But our report revealed emerging trends which we can expect to continue, or even ramp up.

·         17% percent of all Super PAC money has come from for-profit business treasuries- 566 for-profit businesses have contributed a total of $31 million.  Only one New Hampshire business has made such a contribution, totaling $2,500. 

(Consider what that means relative to the millions of dollars that was spent in our primary.)

·         Some other  striking findings in the report are:

·         More than half of itemized Super PAC money came from just 37 people giving at least $500,000.

·         Of all itemized contributions from individuals to Super PACs, 93% came in contributions of at least $10,000.  

·         Only 726 individuals, or less than one in 430,000 people in the U.S., made a contribution this large to a Super PAC.

·         6.4% of the itemized funds raised by Super PACs since 2010 was “secret money,” not feasibly traceable to its original source. A month-to-month analysis of spending in 2010 and 2011 suggests that the months leading up to the 2012 election will see an unprecedented surge in untraceable money.

 In Auctioning Democracy, Demos and U.S. PIRG offer recommendations for pushing back on the influence of Super PACs, specifically tailored to the Federal Election Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the White House, the United States Congress, State Legislatures and even Municipal Governments.

Auctioning Democracy includes a both the report and series of infographics, available for use (with attribution).



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