In Wake of Record-Breaking Spending in 2012 Election Campaign, Public May be Ready to Demand Reform

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Posted Nov. 7, 2012

Interview with Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of the group Public Campaign, conducted by Scott Harris

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As was predicted, the 2012 presidential election campaign broke all records for fundraising, with both the Obama and Romney campaigns collecting about $1 billion each. According the website OpenSecrets, the Romney campaign, the Republican Party and outside Super Pacs – like Karl Rove's American Crossroads – lead the campaign cash competition, spending over $989 million. President Obama’s campaign and their outside PACS trailed by a little, spending over $928 million. The enormous amount of money in this year's campaign, much of it unaccountable, was made possible by the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United vs. FEC case, which lifted restrictions on independent political expenditures.

In the closing days of the campaign, the Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Responsive Politics reported that super PACs and secretive nonprofit groups had allocated more than $820 million in independent expenditures in the 2012 elections, with the overwhelming majority of it favoring Republicans and their candidate Mitt Romney. But the U.S. public may never know exactly how much money was spent in the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. Unlike super PACs, regular political action committees and direct contributions to candidates and party committees, 501(c)(4) groups do not have to report donations or donors.

But according to a recent poll commissioned by the Corporate Reform Coalition, Americans of all political backgrounds agree there is way too much corporate money in politics. Nine in 10 Americans agree with that statement, and 51 percent strongly agree. A strong majority of those surveyed believe that corporate money drowns out the voices of average Americans and corrupts our democratic government. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of the group Pubic Campaign, that supports public funding of election campaigns.

Find more information on Public Campaign and campaign finance reform by visiting PubliCampaign.org.

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