Tags: Trump Administration | GOP2016 | Hillary Clinton | Jeb Bush | Ted Cruz | PACs | PAC

Rich Donor Support to Play Critical Role in 2016 Presidential Race

By    |   Monday, 13 Apr 2015 12:00 PM

The 2016 run for the White House is shaping up as a rich donor's game.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose chances are widely considered to be middle of the pack, stunned political observers with news that his super PACs have raised a whopping $31 million, The Hill reports.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's super PAC Right to Rise is expected to raise at least $100 million, Bloomberg reports, just in the "first few months of this year."

Bush also is expected to raise $500 million before the campaign primary game really gets underway, The Hill notes.

And despite Cruz's unexpected windfall, Fox News commentator Juan Williams, writing in The Hill, notes, "In a head-to-head match-up, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination, leads him by double digits.

"It is obvious that 2016 will be the most expensive campaign in American history," Williams writes.

"What is really unbelievable is that this phenomenon moves American politics farther away from anyone who is not rich — and that means most voters."

In 2010, the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case opened the floodgates for campaign donations, ruling that super PACs can accept unlimited donations from both corporations and individuals, as long as candidates do not "coordinate" with the campaign groups, The New York Times reported.

"As a result, the price to entry for serious presidential contenders has become much higher," the Times said.

Campaign finance lawyer Trevor Potter told the Times, "It just takes a random billionaire to change a race and maybe change the country. That’s what’s so radically different now."

With Cruz's super PACs, under the name of Keep the Promise," Dathan Voelter, head of the group, told The Washington Post, "Our goal is to guarantee Sen. Cruz can compete against any candidate. Supporters of the senator now have a powerful vehicle with the resources necessary to aid in his effort to secure the Republican nomination and win back the White House."

The Times has pointed to billionaire hedge fund operator Robert Mercer as the primary source of the Cruz cash.

And cash breeds more cash. Bradley A. Smith, former Federal Election Commission (FEC) commissioner, told the Times that Mercer's support for Cruz "sends the message to other donors that Cruz is a serious guy and that brings in other donors."

Williams wrote in The Hill, "The power of America’s super-wealthy to dictate presidential politics in the wake of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision is now in full flower."

In 2008, total campaign spending reached over $143 million and rose to over $1 billion in 2012, Williams notes, with each election cycle setting new big-money records.

In addition, the FEC has opened new doors to campaign funding with "gray areas" in the regulations, allowing candidates to hustle up even bigger bucks prior to announcing their intention to run.

Richard Hasen, law professor at University of California-Irvine, told the Los Angeles Times, "The system has become so porous that you can just push the envelope further and further. It's created these gray areas where campaigns can do these things and not get into trouble."

The campaign funding explosion well may spiral downward into other races.

"If Jeb Bush (as yet officially unannounced) gets away with bankrolling a $100 million shadow campaign, that becomes the new normal," Hasen told the Los Angeles Times.

"Every major House and Senate candidate will start postponing their campaign launch, setting up a super PAC, ignoring fundraising limits as long as they can and then, at the last minute, they will file their paperwork to run."

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Politics
The 2016 run for the White House is shaping up as a rich donor's game. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose chances are widely considered to be middle of the pack, stunned political observers with news that his super PACs have raised a whopping $31 million, The Hill reports.
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2015-00-13
Monday, 13 Apr 2015 12:00 PM
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