Democrats Increasing Use of Super PACs

Tuesday, 25 Oct 2011 11:31 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Democrats have begun to embrace Super PACs, joining Republicans in contributing to a surge in the formation of these political action committees, according to a report Tuesday in the Boston Globe.
Even Democrats long-opposed to anonymous campaign contributions, including Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, are now jumping on the bandwagon of what the Globe report described as a “Russian doll system that effectively blocks public disclosure of certain high-dollar political patrons.”

Last year, the Globe reported, Kerry denounced the idea of secret donations as an assault on the political system, saying he couldn’t “think of anything that is less American.” 
But now that the Supreme Court has effectively reversed many of the post-Watergate restrictions placed on political money, Kerry is helping raise donations for the Senate Democrats’ Majority PAC, which can accept unlimited money from a variety of special-interest groups without revealing who they are.

In a fundraising email, Kerry said, “This new organization has one mission: go head-to-head against the big money smear machines that Karl Rove and his cronies built last year to attack Democratic candidates across the country.’’

Asked by the Globe to explain the senator’s reversal, Kerry spokeswoman Jodi Seth said, “We can’t unilaterally disarm” while Republicans continue to use super PACs to help finance campaigns.
The Globe reported that the number of registered super PACs has grown from about 80 in 2010 to about 135. The newspaper noted that even though the law still says they can’t work directly with campaigns, the PACs are being formed at the rate of about two a week in support of this year’s presidential candidates, the major political parties, and various special interest and lobbying organizations.

In an interview with the Globe, Paul S. Ryan, associate counsel at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, addressed the potential for big problems stemming from all that secret fundraising. 

“I think 2012 will be the Wild West of anonymous money in politics,’’ he told the Globe. “Scandals will inevitably follow.’’

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