SuperPACs and Campaign Spending

Information and mis-information comes courtesy of the multi-million-dollar SuperPAC .. those political organizations in the U.S. that can roll out ads for their favorite candidates without having to say who is bankrolling them. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that equates money with free speech has unleashed an estimated billions in election spending. Is it corrosive or conducive to democracy?

Three of The Current

SuperPACs and Campaign Spending - Money in Politics Project

Late night comedian Stephen Colbert threw his hat into the ring -- sort of at least -- for the Republican Presidential nomination, praising God and Citizens United for making it all possible. Citizens United is an advocacy group that wants to end restrictions on campaign spending.

Two years ago, it largely got its way when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its favour in a landmark case which is now re-shaping American politics. Thanks to that ruling, any individual or group -- including corporations and unions -- may now spend as much as they want to help elect the candidate of their choice, as long as they don't actually give the money to that candidate's campaign.

Instead, the money flows through what are known as SuperPACs (Political Action Committees), groups that raise money and churn out attack ads targeting their preferred candidate's rivals. We aired some ads.

As you might have guessed, Restore Our Future supports Mitt Romney while Winning Our Future -- the group that paid for the first ad -- supports Newt Gingrich. Both are being bankrolled by Billionaires making million-dollar contributions.

And in case you were wondering, President Barack Obama is backed by another SuperPAC, also funded by billionaires. Some projections suggest that SuperPACs will spend more than a Billion dollars on this year's U.S. Election and that has former Republican presidential candidate, John McCain deeply worried. We aired a clip.

To help understand how the Citizens United case came to be and what it means for American politics, we were joined by Monica Youn. She's the Brennan Center for Justice Fellow at New York University Law School . She's also the editor of Money, Politics and the Constitution: Beyond Citizens United. Monica Youn was in New York City.

SuperPACs and Campaign Spending - Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich is a Democratic congressman from Ohio who ran twice for the Democratic Presidential nomination. He's also a long-time critic of the influence of corporations on American society and he was in Cleveland, Ohio.

SuperPAC and Campaign Spending - Americans for Prosperity

Phil Kerpen takes a very different view. He's the Vice President of Policy with Americans for Prosperity and he thinks unrestrained corporate financing is good for democracy. Phil Kerpen was in Washington.

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