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 October 07, 2015 07:31 GMT


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U.S. consumer borrowing climbed to a fresh record of $3.45 trillion in July. Economists described that as evidence that the U.S. economy should grow at a healthy pace in the second half of this year, with consumer spending accounting for nearly 70 percent of economic activity.

On the corporate earnings front, Monsanto reports quarterly financial results before the market opens.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate Finance Committee has opened an investigation into Volkswagen's use of a federal tax credit intended for fuel-efficient cars as the company's emissions-rigging scandal widens.

Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Ron Wyden of Oregon say in a letter to Volkswagen on Tuesday that more than $50 million in tax subsidies may have gone to VW owners under false pretenses. Hatch, a Republican, chairs the Finance Committee. Wyden is its senior Democrat.

They said in the letter that the automaker's use of "defeat devices" in diesel passenger cars raises questions of whether officials lied to the U.S. government in certifying that the VW Jetta and other models met emissions standards needed for owners to claim the $1,300-per-vehicle tax credit.

The letter asks for a response by Oct. 30.


BERLIN (AP) -- Volkswagen's new chief executive says that a recall of cars with software at the center of the emissions-rigging scandal should start in January and the automaker aims to fix them all by the end of next year.

Volkswagen has said up to 11 million vehicles worldwide across several of its brands contain the diesel engine with the software used to cheat on U.S. emissions tests. CEO Matthias Mueller told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "It will hopefully be fewer, but in any case still far too many."

Mueller said in an interview published Wednesday that in most cases a software update will suffice to fix the problem but some vehicles could need new injectors and catalyzers.

He said: "If everything goes as planned, we can start the recall in January."


DETROIT (AP) -- Resale values are falling for Volkswagen diesels.

Kelley Blue Book says the average resale value of Volkswagens with two-liter diesel engines is down 13 percent since mid-September, when VW admitted it cheated on U.S. emissions tests using software installed on 11 million diesels worldwide.

Used car values often drop in the fall, since demand for them is stronger in the summer. But VW's diesel decline is unusually large. The price of gas-powered Volkswagens dropped 2 percent in the same period.

Kelley Blue Book calculated the average sale price of 2009-2015 VW diesels at dealer auctions between Sept. 1 and Oct. 1.

KBB residual value consultant Eric Ibara says past recalls indicate VW's residual values could return to normal by next year if VW fixes the problem and customers are satisfied.


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The Democrat has signed legislation that supporters say enacts the strongest equal-pay protection in the nation.

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Express Scripts Holding Co. also is requiring the drugmakers to provide rebates if their prices rise more than a set amount each year.

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U.S. regulators approved Repatha and Praluent earlier this summer.


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The companies say there's no evidence anyone misused internal company data.

Fantasy sports participants put together virtual teams based on real players and compete based on the players' statistics.

Meanwhile, ESPN is cutting sponsored DraftKings content from within shows but continues broadcasting commercials from the daily fantasy sports site. That's according to ESPN Outside the Lines host Bob Ley, who revealed the shift during his show Tuesday.

The industry considers daily fantasy a skilled game, not gambling. It is legal to play in all but five U.S. states.


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In the latest quarter, the company says sales in China rose just 2 percent at established locations. For the full year, the company said it expects China's overall sales at established locations to be negative.

In the U.S., Yum Brands says Taco Bell and KFC saw positive sales gains, while Pizza Hut remained relatively flat.

Not including one-time items, it earned $1 per share. Analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research had been expecting $1.07 per share.

Total revenue was $3.43 billion in the period, also missing Street forecasts.


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Samsung Electronics says its third-quarter operating profit was up 80 percent from over a year earlier, a forecast-beating result likely stemming from strong sales of electronics components and a weakness in the local currency.

The South Korean smartphone maker says its operating profit for the July-September quarter was 7.3 trillion won ($6.3 billion).

The result shows that Samsung is on track for a recovery. Its operating profit has gained quarter to quarter for the past year since falling to 4.1 trillion won one year ago.

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Samsung will announce its net profit and earnings breakdowns for each of its business divisions later this month.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Power companies Exelon and Pepco have negotiated a settlement with District of Columbia officials on a proposed merger.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the settlement Tuesday. Bowser says that in addition to other terms, Exelon will invest $78 million in the city, up from a proposed $14 million. The city had previously rejected the companies' proposed $6.8 billion merger.

The companies had argued that the merger would stabilize electricity rates and enhance the reliability of electric and gas service. Opponents had argued the merger wouldn't benefit ratepayers.

The city was the only jurisdiction to reject the proposed merger between Chicago-based Exelon and Washington-based Pepco. Maryland and Delaware regulators approved the deal.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Protein and health bars at Wal-Mart are getting ready for prime time.

The world's largest retailer plans to expand its offering of bars like Special K and Clif beyond the over-the counter section to the more visible main grocery aisles of some of its stores, starting in January.

Wal-Mart is also considering eventually placing these nutritional bars near the cash registers.

Target Corp. announced last month that it's pushing granola bars and healthy grab-and-go snacks over candy at the checkout aisles in 30 of its stores.

And CVS Health is also adding more fresh foods and healthier snacks at many of its locations while moving bagged candy out of prime store space in the first aisle.

Washington Times