Super PACs: Shortcut to Running for Office?

To many political observers, the rising power of the super Pac is a signal that money has corrupted the political process on a new level. Every presidential candidate has at least one super Pac raising millions of dollars for them, and their donors are kept secret until rare filing dates.

Even President Obama, who after the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling crusaded against the changing campaign finance law, recently bowed to reality and announced he would ship out his cabinet secretaries to raise money at events hosted by the super Pac supporting him (which was started by two of his former White House aides).

"I'm finding that people who believe they're going to run for a higher office in the next election cycle start spending huge sums of money either through their own campaigns or through IEs," said Allan Hoffenblum, a political consultant in Los Angeles, referring to the acronym for "independent expenditures," the super Pac equivalent in California.

Former GOP candidate Jay Townsend, who blames a cash disparity for his loss to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2010, predicted that super Pac spending in congressional races will have significant impacts because it takes less money to make a difference with fewer voters. That kind of effect could make the forces behind those Pacs recognizable to party leaders.

"If someone had been able to write me a check for 5 or 10 million dollars, we would have had a competitive race and a serious dialogue in New York," he said. "Water runs downhill, and money has found its way into the political process, and every time you try to stop the water from going a certain direction, it will still find its way downhill eventually."

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