Tuesday saw the Republican presidential primary in Michigan come down to the wire, with the final push to the finish line determining the undisputed winners, which were . . . the funders of Mitt Romney’s SuperPAC, easily the top spender in the state, and other high-powered donors (some of them unknown). Most of that spending, of course, was on negative ads.
Just as with Florida (which saw the worst of it) and other competitive primary states before, the people of Michigan are now cleaning off a heavy dose of slime– one enabled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission and paid for by super-rich CEOs and, increasingly, corporations.
This spending and slime, of course, has nothing to do with backers’ substantial congressional lobbying expenditures, a connection that led our own campaign-finance guru Craig Holman to observe that “Citizens United has elevated lobbying entities to kingmaker status.” (Oh, and as for the cottage industry that has sprung up denying that the Citizens United ruling has anything to do with this mess, see useful correctives from the Sunlight Foundation and from election-law scholar Rick Hasen.)
Now that primaries in Iowa, South Carolina and other early primary states are over, it’s onward to next week’s “Super Tuesday” primaries in states like Georgia and beyond, with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson making another “substantial donation” to the pro-Newt-Gingrich “Winning Our Future” Super PAC and those bankrolling other candidates following suit. Super PACs are also playing a growing role in congressional races, so as depressing as it is to note, this upcoming Tuesday is really only the beginning of a long election season.
In fact, you just might as well call this coming series of primaries “Super PAC Tuesday” given the dominant role they’ve come to play. So that’s what we’re going to do, using social media to amplify and harness Americans’ disgust with the auctioning and debasement of our democracy.
Starting today and through Tuesday, Public Citizen, our Democracy Is For People campaign (Twitter: @RuleByUs), and allied organizations, elected officials and citizen activists will be tweeting about ongoing money-in-politics news with the hashtag #SuperPACTuesday.