Wednesday, October 13, 2010

They spent how much?!

Elections will always cost money but this years midterms have seen an apparently huge increase in the amount spent on campaigns - they are set to be the most expensive elections ever held in this country. Final figures won't be available until after the campaign itself (a large proportion is spent on ads in the last weeks before election day) but it already appears that the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision has had a significant effect on the level of campaign spending.

By itself this increase need not be overly troubling - after all, if the price of TV ads goes up, candidates need more money to buy airtime. However, by removing all restrictions on corporate and interest group donations, the Citizens United ruling has opened the floodgates to unaccountable private interests, allowing them to ramp up their already excessive influence on American democracy. The toxic combination of the removal of these restrictions with existing loopholes in financial disclosure laws means that not only are special interests exerting more power than ever, but many of them are doing so in secret, making it near impossible to track their influence.

The more expensive it becomes to campaign, the more candidates are forced to rely on donations from private interests whose self-serving contributions can only serve to impede the democratic will of the American people.

As the cost of elections soars, the need for real campaign finance reform becomes ever more stark.

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