PACs, conferences, calling lists & conflict of interest lines: just another day in American campaign finance

Yesterday, Craig Holman, blogged about the amount of time that goes into raising funds to campaign in the 21st century:

Consider that in 1976, successful U.S. Senate candidates spent an average of $2.3 million in 2010 dollars. In 2010, the average Senate winner spent an astonishing $7 million. It is estimated that senators spend a third of their time fundraising. That’s time that isn’t being spent on policymaking.

Campaigns have been a big business for years. However, in the short time since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Elections Committee ruling, there has been a huge spike in dollars being channeled to defeat candidates. These days, candidates often face even more pressure to amp up their own fundraising efforts as they find themselves having to top the efforts of corporately bankrolled political action committees and other advocacy groups who are spending like there is no tomorrow because, according to the controversial 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, they have first amendment freedom of speech rights just like individuals.

One such entity that has been under scrutiny is Liberty Central, a tea party focused advocacy group and hybrid fundraising arm which, at the time of the Citizens United v. FEC ruling that deregulated campaign finance reform as we knew it, was being run by Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas.

Kenneth Vogel of Politico cites,  “Ginni Thomas’s 2009 creation of a tea party non-profit group for which she raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed contributions” as point of controversy, along with Justice Thomas’s attendance of conferences hosted by the Koch brothers.

Vogel reports:

“Ginni” Thomas has a new job in conservative journalism that keeps her involved with the recent focus of her political activism and business dealings – the tea party movement.

In her new capacity working side-by-side with conservative pundit Tucker Carlson, Vogel reports that Ginni Thomas is slated to attend the next conference by the Koch brothers. Vogel writes,

In an interview last month after announcing Thomas’s hiring, Carlson shrugged off questions about how her activities impacted her husband’s objectivity, telling POLITICO “that’s his business. He’s not writing for us. I wish he were.

Wouldn’t it be great if this wasn’t just another day in American campaign finance? Wish you lived in a world back before the Citizens United v. FEC ruling, the rise of Super PACs and non-stop issue ads? We do too, let’s make it happen. Tell your representative to support the Fair Elections Now Act and visit www.democracyisforpeople.org to get involved in our campaign for fair elections.