Study: Democrats Take Advantage of Relaxed Campaign Finance Laws

Friday, 15 Nov 2013 12:00 PM

By Lisa Furgison

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When the Supreme Court made changes to campaign finance laws, people expected right-wing groups to flood campaigns with big money, but a new survey found that liberal-leaning groups outspent conservatives last year in state races across the country.

According to The Washington Times, labor unions and outside groups, such as non-profits, big political action committees, businesses and individuals, spent $209 million last year in the 38 states that held gubernatorial and other state office elections.

The Democratic Governors Association and the Republican Governors Association accounted for almost 40 percent of the $209 million.

Story continues below video.

The study by the Center for Public Integrity, which tracks campaign money, also shows that Democrats, led by labor unions, outpaced their GOP counterparts by more than $8 million, the Times reported. In all, left-leaning groups spent about $44 million dollars last year to influence state elections.

The findings disputed the expectation that conservative groups would reap the biggest rewards from the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision that removed most contribution limits for corporations and unions.

The influx of cash had clear effects on races in New Hampshire, Maine, and Colorado, the study revealed.

In the New Hampshire gubernatorial race, for example, the Democratic Governors Association spent about $7 million to bash Republican Ovide Lamontagne in ads, which analysts say played a role in assuring Maggie Hassan's victory.

Donors say they are more willing to contribute to state campaigns because their money can influence state races and policies easier than national policies.

While the study shows heavy spending in 2012, the Center for Public Integrity predicts even more money will flow into state campaign coffers next year, due in part to the 36 gubernatorial seats that are up for election next year.

"There’s no question that we will see a huge impact of this in the next elections," John Dunbar, the center's managing editor, told the Times.

"When we had races in 2010, the Citizens United decision was still fresh and people were still trying to figure out how to take advantage of it. Now people know how to use it."

Related Stories:

Mississippi, Arizona Aided by Citizens United Ruling
Obama Blasts Court Decision on Campaign Finance

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