Voters should prepare for huge Super PAC spending in 2014 and beyond

Updated: Friday, March 21, 2014
Voters should prepare for huge Super PAC spending in 2014 and beyond story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It's a term not even four years old, but one so widely used in our modern lexicon that Wednesday it found its way into the New Merriam-Webster online unabridged dictionary.

The term is 'Super PAC,' the name given to those giant political organizations that raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of the candidates or issues of their choice.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says if we thought $830 million spent by Super PACs two years ago was a lot, we should brace ourselves for what's coming.

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All of this spending is thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling of four years ago--in a case commonly referred to "Citizens United," that equated spending oodles and oodles of money to free speech.

In an era when people wanted more and more accountability and transparency from their candidates, it was a ruling that virtually threw both out the window.

The ads and commercials paid for by all this money are  not officially part of anyone's campaign. Meaning that whatever messages the PAC wants to spend its millions on cannot be done  in concert with an individual campaign.

Wink, wink.

Its probably just a coincidence that lots of PACs have former campaigners for that particular candidate, or that specific issue, on their staffs--that Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell became a laughing-stock the other day when he posted online two-and-a-half minutes of himself, smiling.

No narration, no message; just a smiling Mitch. Could it conceivably be that a PAC supporting his uphill campaign down in the bluegrass state needed some footage of him? Could it be a thinly disguised move to get around what campaign finance laws we have left.

It's a shell game. And they think we're suckers.

And where do these now-in-the-dictionary Super PACs get their millions of dollars? We don't know. They don't have to tell us. They can remain anonymous.

You know why? To hear them tell it, not only is it good for democracy, it protects donors from fear of retribution.

Fear of retribution? Seriously? These are the same people who continually spout the constitution.

Well, how about the founding fathers who put everything on the line when they signed the Declaration of Independence? They weren't anonymous. They didn't use aliases. They stood up and were counted.

There is one member of the Supreme Court who agrees. Antonin Scalia said one who puts his name on a document is less likely to lie than one who can lie anonymously.

I've said this before, I'll say it again. Who do you think gets the ear of a politician? Us guys, who might throw $25 to $100 at someone's campaign? Or someone who coughs up two hundred grand or more?

Maybe the term Super PAC ought to have at least a secondary definition in Webster's new dictionary; how about something nuanced in reality? Something that gets to the heart of the matter?

How about legalized bribery?

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on August 04, 2015 07:28 GMT

FOSSIL FUELS ON SALE

NEW YORK (AP) -- These days it seems whatever can be burned to power a car, heat a home, make electricity or ship people and goods around the globe is being sold at bargain basement prices.

Prices for coal, natural gas, oil and the fuels made from crude such as gasoline and diesel are all far less expensive than they have been in recent years.

Consumers are rejoicing. Fossil fuel companies are reeling. Countries that import energy, such as the U.S., China, Japan and those in the European Union, are getting an economic boost. Exporters, such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are facing lower income and budget shortfalls.

Commodities in general are slumping. The S&P global commodity index hit its lowest level since 2002 on July 27, lower even than during the 2008 global financial crisis.

The recent price declines are a result of complex factors that have led to a simple outcome: There is more than enough fossil fuels at the ready than customers need.

THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Commerce Department will be releasing factory orders for June. Today's release is set for 10 a.m. EST.

In Germany, Automaker BMW AG will report its second-quarter earnings.

On Wall Street, Aetna reports quarterly financial results before the market opens. Other pre-market quarterly reports are due to be released by CVS Health, Walt Disney, and Freddie Mac.

PIMCO-SEC

NEW YORK (AP) -- Investment giant Pimco says the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into its total-return fund.

Pimco says it was notified that the SEC is looking into the valuation of smaller-sized positions in non-agency mortgage-backed securities purchased by the fund between its inception on Feb. 29, 2012 and June 30, 2012. The SEC is also investigating the fund's performance disclosures for that period and its compliance policies and procedures.

Pacific Investment Management Co. says it received a Wells notice, which means SEC investigators are recommending that the agency take civil action against the company. The SEC is not formally accusing Pimco or the Pimco Total Return Active Exchange-Traded Fund of wrongdoing.

The SEC declined comment.

GENERAL MOTORS-IGNITION SWITCH DEATHS

DETROIT (AP) -- According to a fund set up to compensate victims General Motors' faulty ignition switches were responsible for at least 124 deaths and 274 injuries. The fund, administered by attorney Kenneth Feinberg, updated the totals Monday.

Victims' families are being offered compensation of at least $1 million each. The fund has finished processing the 4,342 claims it received by the Jan. 31 deadline. Of those, 91 percent -- or 3,938 -- were deemed ineligible. Feinberg is waiting for additional documentation for six claims.

Fund spokeswoman Camille Biros says 385 compensation offers have been made so far and 275 have been accepted. Five have been rejected.

GM recalled 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars last year but acknowledged it knew about the ignition switch problems for more than a decade.

MEDICAL DATA HACK

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) -- An Indiana medical software company has reported the private information of 3.9 million people nationwide was exposed when its networks were hacked earlier this year.

That's according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Medical Informatics Engineering reported the number of people affected by the hack to the federal agency on July 23.

The Fort Wayne company announced June 10 that the attack on its main network and its NoMoreClipboard network began May 7 and was detected May 26. The company said the exposed information includes names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers and health records.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has urged all state residents to freeze their credit in the wake of the hack. He said his office is investigating the breach.

A list of affected providers can be found online at www.mieweb.com/notic

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