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.

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Last Update on September 19, 2014 07:27 GMT

BRITAIN-SCOTLAND

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) -- Scottish voters have rejected independence, deciding to remain part of the United Kingdom after a historic referendum that shook the country to its core.

The decision prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to the British political establishment. Scots voted 55 percent to 45 percent against independence in a vote that saw an unprecedented turnout.

A majority of voters did not embrace Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond's impassioned plea to launch a new state, choosing instead the security offered by remaining in the United Kingdom.

Salmond conceded defeat, saying "we know it is a majority for the No campaign" and called on Scots to accept the results of the vote.

Salmond had argued that Scots could go it alone because of its extensive oil reserves and high levels of ingenuity and education. He said Scotland would flourish on its own, free of interference from any London-based government.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government today will report on state unemployment rates for August. Nationally in August, U.S. employers added just 142,000 jobs, well below the average of the previous 12 months.

Also today, the Conference Board will issue its August index of leading economic indicators, which is designed to predict the economy's future health. In July, the index posted its sharpest advance in four months, indicating that the economy was gaining traction headed into the second half of the year.

ALIBABA-IPO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba priced its initial public offering of stock at $68 per share on Thursday, the top end of the expected range. It is expected to start trading Friday under the ticker "BABA" on the NYSE. The IPO values Alibaba at $167.6 billion. That's bigger than the current market value of Amazon, Cisco, and eBay.

15-year-old Alibaba's Taobao, TMall and other platforms account for some 80 percent of Chinese online commerce.

The fundraising target could be up to $25 billion handily eclipsing the $16 billion Facebook raised in 2012, the most for a technology IPO. It also tops the all-time IPO fundraising record of $22.1 billion set by the Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. in 2010, according to the research firm Dealogic.

SAP-CONCUR TECHNOLOGIES

NEW YORK (AP) -- German business software maker SAP says it will buy travel and expense management software company Concur Technologies for $129 per share, or about $7.36 billion.

That's a premium of 19.7 percent to Concur's closing price on Thursday.

SAP AG values the deal at $8.3 billion and says the acquisition should close in the fourth quarter of 2014 or the first quarter of 2015.

SAP says Concur has 25 million users in 150 countries. The Bellevue, Washington company's revenue rose 29 percent to $178.4 million in its latest fiscal quarter. SAP had about $5.6 billion in revenue in its latest fiscal period.

Shares of Concur Technologies Inc. closed at $107.80 Thursday. The stock is up 4.5 percent in 2014 but has fallen from a high of $130.39.

SAMSUNG-NOTE 4 PHONE

NEW YORK (AP) -- Samsung says U.S. wireless carriers will start taking orders for its large-screen Galaxy Note 4 smartphone on the same day larger iPhones go on sale.

The Note 4 will be available on Oct. 17. Orders will be taken beginning Friday. It has a screen measuring 5.7 inches diagonally, slightly larger than the 5.5 inches on Apple's new iPhone 6 Plus. The regular iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch screen.

Unlike the iPhone, Samsung's Note phones come with a stylus for note taking. The Note runs Google's Android system and has Samsung-produced extras such as the ability to show multiple apps on the same screen at once.

Samsung also is making the Galaxy Note Edge with a side screen to display weather information, clocks and other information. The company hasn't provided details about U.S. availability.

JETBLUE-CEO

UNDATED (AP) -- JetBlue CEO Dave Barger will step down in February and be replaced by the airline's president, Robin Hayes.

New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp. announced the move Thursday.

Speculation about changing CEOs has swirled around JetBlue for several months. Wall Street analysts have expressed hope that a new CEO might take steps to increase revenue, such as adding a fee for the first checked bag. Hayes is declining to say whether he will do that.

Barger will leave when his contract expires, and Hayes will take over on Feb. 16.

GULF OIL SPILL-TRANSOCEAN

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal appeals court in New Orleans has upheld a federal safety board's right to investigate the role of Transocean Deepwater Drilling Corp. in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon rig that was drilling for BP PLC. The company had challenged the authority of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board to do the investigation.

In a 2-1 decision Thursday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that the board could investigate.

The safety board's investigation had continued during the appeal. In June, the board issued a report citing multiple failures and improper testing of the rig's blowout preventer as factors in the accident, and found fault with BP and Transocean.

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