Outside money has caused a huge disparity between Republicans and Democrats in the run up to the midterm elections. It is clear that money helps candidates win and this year at least 40 Democrats took in less cash than their Republican opponents. What has many concerned is the fact that outside political money is funding Republican hopefuls in campaigns across America.
Campaign finance is a big issue this election cycle in part because a Supreme Court ruling that removed contribution limits. This year, is the first national election since the Court’s decision opened the floodgates enabling companies (primarily the fossil fuel industry) to spend unlimited sums to support candidates who will protect the interests of the old energy economy.
To help facilitate the influx of money, Republicans and their allies have set up new organizations, nicknamed super PACs, these groups accept and spend unlimited contributions without disclosing their donors.
The Sunlight foundation, a nonpartisan group that advocates for government transparency, estimates that nearly $100 million in what it calls “dark money” is finding its way into midterm election races. That’s about half of all the money from outside groups, and most of it is going to Republicans.
The Sunlight foundation says Republican-supporting super PACs and other independent groups are outspending those allied with Democrats by nearly $41 million. The Campaign Finance Institute at George Washington University puts the disparity at $63.5 million. They also cite a 73 percent rise in spending since 2008 by independent outside groups.
Environmental groups also donate money and influence the debate, however, the massive resources of the oil industry dwarf environmental groups. In 2009, the oil industry spent over $175 million lobbying against climate change legislation whereas all environmental groups together spent about 7 percent of that amount or $24 million.
Another important distinguishing factor of environmental groups lobbying efforts is that they are working to create green jobs, reduce pollution and combat climate change. Republican candidates are taking money from the petrochemical industry who are seeking to protect oil interests at the expense of green jobs and a clean energy economy.
The Democrat’s efforts to pass a disclosure bill this year, ran into a wall of GOP opposition. With all the money flowing to Republican candidates from big oil, it is no wonder they resist transparency. It also helps to explain poll results favoring Republican candidates.
Americans deserve to know the truth about money that is coming from out of state, particularly money coming from those with a dirty agenda.
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