Houston Chronicle: Wealthy donors flock to outside groups in GOP presidential race
"This is the first time we're seeing this large an influence in resources," said former FEC lawyer Larry Noble, now senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, which tracks political spending. "Last election saw the rise of the independent groups and super PACs. But what we're seeing now is super PACs that are really offshoots of the campaigns."
"They're not only using super PACs to do issue ads, but they're offloading what has been traditional campaign activity," Noble said. "They're using unlimited contributions for opposition research, strategy and on-the-ground work."
Noble and other critics of the newly-deregulated campaign finance world trace it back to the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United, which loosened restrictions on independent political expenditures.
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