The Washington Post has an interesting piece up today about a new Super PAC set up for the sole purpose of electing Mitt Romney. The group is expected to announce next month they've already raised $25 million. As Stephen Colbert has pointed out, a Super PAC is just a PAC who declares themselves "Super" so they can accept unlimited donations. Who do we have to thank for the existence of such groups? Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold (who is thankfully a former Senator now).
Early last decade, both Senators co-sponsored legislation that re-wrote campaign finance laws in the name of reducing the influence of "soft money" donations to politicians, dubbed the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Act. The only effect it has seemed to have is to vastly increase the amount of "soft money" donations, and shadowy groups who subsist on them, while reducing the transparency of the donated dollars. While Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United have opened the floodgates to unlimited donations, it is McCain-Feingold that set up the tax structures and disclosure requirements that allow these groups to hide in the shadows.
Sure, PACs existed prior to McCain-Feingold, but it wasn't until that travesty of legislation passed that we saw an explosion of outside groups, to the point that actual candidates campaigns now often pale in comparison to the expenditures of outside groups.
We see nothing wrong with donations to candidates over the current federal limit of $2,500, or $1,100 for statewide candidates in Colorado, as long as they're open. Money will always, we repeat always, find its way into politics. All we're saying is that it should be transparent. People should be able to follow the money.
The Democrats in Colorado were among the first in the nation to find ways to circumvent the new regulations, setting up what eventually became known as the Colorado Democracy Alliance (CODA), a group of 37 organizations pushing for the election of Democrats in Colorado through their own activist groups, think tanks, faux news organizations and online rumor mills. Republicans in Colorado still lack a comparable infrastructure.
Thanks to the short-sighted and I-know-best mentality of Messrs. McCain and Feingold, we're pretty much stuck with this ridiculous system of loopholes for the near future. So we don't blame Romney backers for making due with the legal cards they were dealt. It just annoys us to no end that McCain and Feingold stuck us with such garbage.