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.


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 November 30, 2015 18:18 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Slightly more Americans signed contracts to buy homes in October, in a modest rebound that suggests the real estate market has crested.

The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 0.2 percent to 107.7 last month. The index has increased 3.9 percent over the past 12 months.

Healthy job gains and low mortgage rates boosted sales for much of the year, but rising home values and limited inventories have limited further growth in the closing months of 2015.

The number of signed contracts advanced in the Northeast and West, while dipping in the Midwest and South.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A lag of a month or two usually exists between a contract and a completed sale.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Retailers are rolling out online deals today, the so-called "Cyber Monday."

But since shoppers these days are online all the time anyway, the shopping holiday is losing some of its luster. Still, today is expected to be the biggest online shopping day ever, with estimates that it will rack up over $3 billion in sales.

The head of the National Retail Federation, Matthew Shay, says, "It's no longer about one day but a season of digital deals."

Online shopping is taking its toll on brick-and-mortar shopping. Frenzied crowds seemed to be a thing of the past on Black Friday -- the busy shopping day after Thanksgiving. According to preliminary numbers from the research firm ShopperTrak, sales fell to $10.4 billion this year, down from $11.6 billion in 2014.

But as online shopping grows more popular on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, that's causing less of a frenzy on Cyber Monday, too.

Retailers have been touting online deals since the beginning of November. And they no longer wait for Monday to roll out Cyber Monday deals, either. Amazon started "Lighting Deals" on Saturday and Wal-Mart beginning all of its Cyber offers on 8 p.m. on Sunday.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Amazon is providing new details on its Prime Air drone delivery program. But the timeline is still unclear.

The retailer says Prime Air will one day deliver packages up to 5 pounds in 30 minutes or less using small drones.

The drones will fly under 400 feet and weigh less than 55 pounds, according to details posted on its website Sunday. It says it will use technology and automation to operate safely.

Amazon says the program will start once government regulations are in place to support it. It has development centers in the U.S., the U.K. and Israel.

The FAA currently bans commercial drone flights except for a few dozen companies that have been granted waivers. It has granted Amazon approval to fly drones for research.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve officials have moved to prevent the central bank from bailing out failing companies, a power it exercised during the 2008 financial crisis.

The Fed governors voted 5-0 Monday to downsize the Fed's emergency lending powers.

Only broad lending programs designed to revive frozen markets -- not loans to individual firms -- will be allowed. The Fed spent about $2 trillion on such a program to ease a credit crunch during the financial meltdown, aiming to spark lending to consumers and small businesses.

The 2010 law enacted by Congress overhauling financial regulation required the Fed to impose the restraints. Lawmakers of both parties had objected to the Fed's emergency aid to several big Wall Street banks and insurance giant American International Group.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The International Monetary Fund says the Chinese yuan will join a basket of the world's leading currencies.

The IMF announced that the yuan "met all existing criteria" to be included with the U.S. dollar, euro, Japanese yen and the British pound as one of the currencies used for the global organization's Special Drawing Rights, which is used as the standard for dealing with its 188 member governments.

China is the world's second largest economy. Currency traders and economists say the move should encourage the government in Beijing to deliver on promises to make the yuan "freely tradable" and to open up its financial system.

The IMF's decision is set to take effect in October 2016.


PARIS (AP) -- President Barack Obama says the private sector needs to have a seat at the table as the world's governments attempt to curb global warming.

He says that governments will set the targets that nations will try to reach, but it will be scientists, private sector investors and workers who will largely determine whether those goals are met.

Obama's remarks come as part of an event in which at least 19 governments and 28 investors were announcing billions of dollars toward researching and developing clean energy technology.

Obama says Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is correct in noting that improving energy efficiency will only help nations get part of the way toward reaching their targets. New inventions and technology will also be required.

He calls the partnership one of the most significant private-public partnerships even forged to accelerate energy innovation.

Washington Times