U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is teaming with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to clean up the indulgent and secretive excesses of so-called political Super PACs. She's pledged to take on the project early in the 113th Congress, and co-authored with Wyden an opinion piece on the subject published in the Washington Post.
Super PACs emerged in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United Decision, which cleared the way for unlimited fundraising and spending by political action committees that act independently of any candidate or candidate's campaign.
In their piece for the Post, released late Thursday to reporters, Murkowski and Wyden explain:
"This influx of unregulated political cash stemming from the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision spawned a particularly vitriolic political cycle. Groups on both sides dumped some $6 billion into tearing down candidates for public office. The anonymity of much of this spending encourages ads that lower the level of political discourse and makes it harder, not easier, for Americans to make informed decisions.”
Murkowski has herself benefited greatly from a Super PAC. Back in 2010, when independent expenditure groups got the green light to go hog wild, she was in a heated battle to keep her Senate seat from going to Alaska's tea party-backed challenger, Joe Miller. Miller won the primary, but Murkowski chose to stay in the race and mount a write-in campaign. With the help of a Super PAC called Alaskans Standing Together, largely funded by Alaska Native corporations reliant on federal money streams, Murkowski won re-election. [MORE]
Nearly seven in 10 registered voters would like super PACs to be illegal, including more than half who feel that way strongly, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Sixty-nine percent of all Americans and voters alike say super PACs, a fundraising vehicle that allows wealthy donors to make unlimited donations in support of a particular candidate or party, should be banned. Just 25 percent said they should remain legal.
Those numbers were even more startling among political independents, 78 percent (!) of whom say super PACs should be illegal.
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