Super PACs–The Boil on the Backside of Politics
To my delight dismay, I have reached an age where my body is falling apart in a most embarrassing fashion. This morning, I had an itch…in an unmentionable place. (For the sake of the squeamish, we are going to use old-world medical terminology.) Scratching my posterior whilst preparing to carpe the diem, I felt something go ‘pop’. Let’s just say, it was not a place one could put a plaster*. While trying to angle a mirror to get a disgusting look-see, I couldn’t help but think of that political curiosity—the Super PAC.**
Before you start scratching your….head…trying to put those two ideas together, let me save you time. I have no idea why looking at a bleeding hind sore makes me think of politics, I really don’t. But I figure, there has to be some sort of subliminal influences at play. (Possibly influenced by a week of bean soup.) I also blame NPR for spilling the beans about the Federal Elections Commission’s continuing failure to keep big money out of our electoral process.
It turns out that, as long as you don’t SAY you are running for office, you can benefit from oodles of donations for your campaign’s political advertising or even just to sabotage your opponents and you don’t have to report who is making the contributions. After listening to a very clear and concise explanation of why Jeb Bush isn’t running for office yet (wink wink), I still couldn’t grasp how this was possible or why it was significant.
As previously discussed in An Unnatural Brunette Get Political, my vast knowledge of politics pretty much begins and ends with whatever humorous snark John Stewart is ranting about on the Daily Show. In order to understand why my bleeding orifice reminds me of a bloated organization hemorrhaging money, I had to do a little research.
You’d think it would be easy in the day of digital reconnaissance to clickety-click one’s way to comprehension on just about any topic. If you were looking up ‘ways to be entertained by cats’, for example, you’d have an embarrassment of riches. However, when trying to parse out exactly what kind of shenanigans the government is getting up to, it’s a royal pain in the….(I think you know where I’m heading with this one.) I did stumble over many convoluted explanations of how both parties have maneuvered to alternately approve a political message (Hillary Clinton sucks) or ban a political message (Michael Moore really hates George Bush and you should too). These sources cite precedent, legal statutes, bickering opinions by supreme court justices and they all boil down to the idea that money in politics = bad. So how come we still have golden showers of money raining down on us in the form of political advertising? Because money talks dirty and powerful people listen. Skip forward a few years…and the FEC takes a dump on our electoral process by creating a loophole in finance reform. Here’s roughly how it happened:
To understand what a Super PAC is, you have to understand how PACs came to exist. In 1974, the government tried to restrict how much money could be given directly to a politician’s campaign by special interest groups. The Federal Election Campaign Act dictated that “Corporations and unions may not contribute directly to federal PACs, but can pay for the administrative costs of a PAC affiliated with the specific corporation or union”. So the PACs funneled money for the candidates, but there were still restrictions on how much could be collected and that donations abide by strict guidelines and transparencies. Politicians were against this and immediately looked for a way around this law.*** Reading this stuff can give you a headache; I like analogies, so I’ll try to mangle one for you…
Let’s say, Bob is running for office. If some group—say, Americans Banning Body Art—gave Bob $2,599 dollars in total contributions because Bob doesn’t have any tattoos, no one would raise a stink. If, however, A.B.B.A. gave Bob $2,600 to spend on his campaign the group would immediately be labeled a PAC—or Political Action Committee.
But Bob doesn’t want to be known as having anti-tattoo leanings; he would rather hide how and where his campaign support comes from. What is a clean-skin freak to do? Enter the Super PAC. Instead of A.B.B.A giving Bob the money, A.B.B.A. can collect unknown millions and hire someone to speak well of Bob (or badly of Bob’s opponent) without saying who paid for it. You may ask, “But where did Super PACs come from?” Bob…or someone like him…talked dirty to the FEC.
How does a PAC mutate into a Super PAC. Super vitamins? No. According to a report on How Stuff Works, the FEC (remember them—the commission which tried to regulate excessive spending in politics?) ruled that “individuals, corporations and unions can now contribute unlimited cash to Super PACs, which essentially means there is no ceiling to how much money is injected into elections.”
I think ABBA said it best:
So, there you have it. Now any Tom, Dick or Bob can funnel his drug cartel money hard earned pennies into any candidate’s election through an independent agency who just happens to want to propose advertising that will benefit said politicians aspirations as long as the candidate hasn’t actually said he or she is running for office.
Fast forward to my bleeding rectum and you can practically sense the tingling moment when a great idea was born. (Wow, is that a gross analogy.)
[Warning: Back-assward Syllogism Follows]
Any ass with a Super Pac can collect money to NOT run for office…
My ass isn’t running for office!
Therefore, if I had a Super PAC they could raise millions of dollars for my ass!
So, I have decided to form an exploratory committee for my ass. The committee will plumb the depths of people’s desires for my ass NOT to run for office! According to the Federal Election Committee, the first step is for someone to raise or spend $1,000 on behalf of my ass and file a FEC Form 1 within ten days. I encourage someone out there to form Committee to look into my ass’s chances of not running for office. You will need a name for my eventual Political inAction Committee. Vote here for your favorite suggestion:
My ass is nameless and it is not running for office. My ass approves this message.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*A plaster is what they called Bandaids™ before Johnson & Johnson kicked every else’s ass and slapped a piece of tape on the contusions.
**“What is a Super PAC?” You ask. In short, a Super PAC is the political equivalent of saying “So There” to campaign finance reform.
***All politicians like getting as much money as possible—it’s called a PAC mentality.
Actual Honest To Goodness Footnotes (I am now cursing my high school self who argued that I would never, in a million years, need to know how to footnote something when I grew up. Blame her for the following list):
Political Action Committee, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_action_committee#History
How Do I Start a Super PAC or Hybrid PAC?, Federal Election Commission, http://www.fec.gov/ans/answers_pac.shtml#super_hybrid