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 January 30, 2015 08:34 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Investors will have their eye on the government's latest estimate of U.S. economic growth when the Commerce Department releases its report on fourth quarter gross domestic product today.

Also, the University of Michigan will issue its monthly index of consumer sentiment for January and the Labor Department will release the employment cost index for the fourth quarter, a measure of wage and benefit growth..

It's also the busiest week of the current corporate earnings season.

The global biopharmaceutical company AbbVie will report quarterly financial results before the market opens, along with Altria Group and MasterCard.

SHAKE SHACK-IPO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Investors apparently have a craving for a better burger.

Hamburger chain Shake Shack Inc. has priced its initial public stock offering at $21 per share, above its proposed range of $17 to $19 per share.

It sold 5 million shares, raising $105 million. The banks managing the deal may buy 750,000 more shares.

Shake Shack cooks burgers to order and promotes its use of natural ingredients, emblematic of what's known as the "better burger" trend.

Its origins date to 2001, when Union Square Hospitality Group, a company owned by restaurateur Danny Meyer, opened a hot dog cart in Manhattan's Madison Square Park. Shake Shack now has 63 locations in nine countries.

The stock is expected to begin trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange under the "SHAK" ticker symbol.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's industrial output edged higher in December, suggesting the world's third-largest economy may be turning the corner on a recession brought on by a hefty sales tax hike.

Data released Friday showed manufacturing output increased 0.3 percent in December from the same month a year earlier. However, inflation moderated to 2.5 percent from a year earlier, compared with 2.7 percent in November.

The core consumer price index, excluding food, fell 0.2 percent from the month before.

Falling energy costs thanks to the plunge in oil prices had a limited effect, since the CPI excluding both food and energy was unchanged from the previous month.

Japan's jobless rate dipped to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent the month before. But stagnant wages meant household spending dropped 3.4 percent from a year earlier.

TOYOTA-FATAL CRASH

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Jury deliberations will resume Friday in a case alleging a 1996 Toyota Camry had a design defect that caused a fatal crash.

Jurors left the federal court in Minneapolis without a verdict Thursday and will return Friday to keep deliberating. At one point in their discussions, jurors asked for a video player so they could view some evidence in the case.

The jurors must decide whether Toyota's design of the 1996 Camry had a defect that was unreasonably dangerous. If they find there was a defect, they must decide if it directly caused injuries to those hurt or killed when Koua Fong Lee crashed into another car in 2006.

Lee spent 2 1/2 years in prison before being released after reports suggested some Toyota cars had sudden acceleration problems.

PIPELINE SPILLS-KEYSTONE

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- As Congress presses the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, government records show oil pipeline accidents have become increasingly frequent in the U.S.

An Associated Press review shows accident numbers growing steadily since 2009, reversing a decade-long decline.

Keystone would go from Canada to the Gulf, passing near where 30,000 gallons of crude spilled into Montana's Yellowstone River earlier this month.

The recent breach became the latest in a string of spills to highlight ongoing problems with maintenance of the nation's crude pipeline network.

After the U.S. Senate voted Thursday in favor of Keystone, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state cited the increase in spills in calling for Obama to veto the measure.

Keystone supporter North Dakota Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said building it was preferable to using older pipelines.

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