Fight for control of the House leads to unprecedented campaign spending
August 8, 2012
WASHINGTON – Million in campaign dollars are flowing in North Carolina, but it’s not just for the presidential race. While the Tar Heel State is an important battleground in the race for the White House, the fight for control over the U.S. House has record amounts being spent
“We’re confident that we’ll be able to spend about $35 million all told in House races across the country,” said Andy Stone, communications director for the House Majority PAC.
Last month, the Democratic-run House Majority PAC and the SEIU announced they’re buying $378,000 in fall TV ads in the Triangle as part of their $20 million ad blitz aimed at putting Democrats back in control of the House.
“The reason we exist is to combat the flood of outside Republican money that we saw last cycle. That can’t happen again,” said Stone.
The PAC’s Republican counterpart, the Congressional Leadership Fund, plans to use the $6.3 million it’s raised so far to keep the GOP in power.
“Where leftist groups were able to come in, groups from the Sierra Club to unions, we are now able to serve as a counter-balance there.” Congressional Leadership Fund communications director Dan Conston said.
This is political spending like the country has never seen before; election campaigns forever changed by a 2010 Supreme Court decision.
“The Citizens United Decision really has opened the flood gates of huge amounts of money into campaigns,” said American University distinguished history professor Allan Lichtman.
Super PACs must disclose where they get their funds and how they spend it, but others, specifically 501(c)(4)s, don’t have to disclose anything.
“I think it’s distorting the truth and I think it’s going to distort the election,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
Last Month, Senate Democrats tried to vote on the Disclose Act, which would have closed that loophole, but Republicans, who are far outraising Democrats, blocked the measure. Conston says the right is simply taking its cues from the left.
“It sounds a little hypocritical and a little bit like sour grapes,” he said.
Campaign experts say both sides are a part of the problem, and in the end a wealthy few have too much influence over the outcome of elections.
“Candidates should be like NASCAR drivers, on their suits they should have patches,” Lichtman said.