Newsweek: When it Comes to Super PACs, Size May Not Matter


Those who want to rein in money in politics aren’t celebrating, however. “I don’t take any solace in the fact that there are some candidates who aren’t polling very well today who have benefited from super PACs,” says Paul Ryan, deputy executive director at the Campaign Legal Center. When it comes to Bush, for example, Ryan points out that “it’s quite possible he would have been out long ago if it were not for his super PAC.” And two other leading candidates—Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio—both have active super PACs (and for Rubio, a separate nonprofit group known as a 501(c)4) that could help propel them to victory in 2016.

But according to Ryan, the biggest shift is that super PACs are “not only taking over the TV campaign, but they’re also mounting significant ground games” in support of candidates. He singled out former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina’s committee, CARLY for America, which “seems to be staging all of her campaign events.” Another super PAC supporting Clinton, Correct the Record, is operating a rapid response media operation on her behalf.

Ryan is not optimistic that his or other watchdogs’ efforts to halt alleged campaign finance violations will have any impact on the 2016 race. “It has historically taken the FEC years to resolve complaints,” he notes. “The Campaign Legal Center still has complaints pending that we filed in 2011.” In other words, there’s little to deter political campaigns from pushing the boundaries of campaign finance law. And that means outside group activity in the presidential race is only likely to expand—particularly on the Republican side—as the election advances into 2016. “Presidential candidates have effectively outsourced their campaigns to super PACs and dark money groups,” laments Ryan. The next year will test whether that’s a winning strategy.

To read the full story at Newsweek, click here.