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HUFFPOST FUNDRACE -- Super PAC Birthday

Posted: 03/26/2012 5:52 pm Updated: 03/26/2012 6:20 pm

Today is the second anniversary of the SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) court ruling that caused the FEC to create super PACs. The court in SpeechNow.org ruled that a group of individuals could pool their money in the form unlimited contributions into a political action committee (PAC), so long as it remained independent from political parties or candidates. The ruling was based entirely on the finding in the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that independent expenditures, and the contributions to them, cannot corrupt or create the appearance of corruption. Recently, groups in support of the Citizens United ruling and those opposed to it have debated as to whether the Citizens United ruling led to the creation of super PACs.

The Center for Competitive Politics hails the anniversary: "In truth, what Super PACs really do is upset the incumbent-protection apple cart. They allow any person or association to get together and speak about politics. They allow those people and organizations that are outside of the insider-y/campaign consultant universe to say whatever they want to say, whenever they want to say it. Super PACs are exactly the sort of unfettered political speaking tool that is necessary if we are going to take seriously the phrase 'Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.'"

Rick Hasen, election law professor at UC-Irvine, previously made a convincing argument that super PACs stem directly from Citizens United simply by visualizing the explosion in outside spending that has occurred since the court decided the Citizens United case.

As HuffPost has previously reported, super PACs have become the primary vehicle for the wealthiest Americans to get involved in electoral politics. Our most recent report after fundraising numbers for February were revealed found that the share of donors giving $500,000 or more to super PACs increased from 61 percent of all super PAC contributions to 67 percent.

Read more of our super PAC coverage by following these many, many links.

Meanwhile, in the presidential race, the super PAC supporting Rick Santorum is going up with ads in Wisconsin. He will still be wildly outspent by Mitt Romney and the Death Star. Total Romney super PAC spending in Wisconsin has inched up to $954,373.

Reform groups arrived at the Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC) this morning to deliver a message, the SEC should immediately require publicly-traded corporations to disclose their political spending to their shareholders and the public.

Connecticut may be the first state to move on requiring companies to disclose political spending to shareholders.

The Wisconsin recall election of Gov. Scott Walker is eating up so much of the political attention in the state that few people from Wisconsin are donating to the presidential candidates.

The Montana attorney general has filed new arguments in their battle against the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling.

Washington Post's Dan Eggen asks, could Democratic fears of a Republican super PAC avalanche be overblown? When thinking about this consider what every political scientist (that I've talked to) has told Fundrace, television advertisements matter a lot less in a presidential general election than in a primary race. There will be near parity in terms of money unlike what we've seen with Romney swamping Santorum and Gingrich. And the main utility of a super PAC is to run ads, mostly negative ones. The main thing to pay attention to will be if super PACs coordinate to spend huge amounts in specific battleground states. Also, pay attention to super PAC spending at the congressional level where their spending can create massive disparities overnight.

The New York Times editorializes on contributions by government contractors.

Democratic congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth backs off of a previous super PAC pledge after defeating her super PAC backed primary opponent.

Progressives United, the group founded by former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold, says that a super PAC backing a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Wisconsin's recall election will, "undermine, not bolster, the chances of successfully replacing Scott Walker as governor."

AD WATCH

Help us populate our list of campaign videos. Send any notable TV, radio or web ads that you see to Fundrace. Send your submissions to paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.

Committee: American Future Fund
Candidate Opposed: Barack Obama
Spot: "Obama 2012"
Market: Unknown.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: American Crossroads
Candidate Opposed: Barack Obama
Spot: "Individual Mandate: Obama v. Obama"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: Richard Lugar for Senate
Spot: "Unconstitutional"
Market: Indiana.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Club for Growth
Candidate Opposed: Richard Lugar
Spot: "No More"
Market: Indiana.
Buy: Part of a $1.8 million effort.

Committee: Jon Tester for Senate
Spot: "Combine"
Market: Montana.
Buy: Undisclosed.

Committee: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Spot: "Martin Sheen: Stand Up For Medicare"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: Barack Obama for President
Spot: "Republicans are desperate to kill health care reform - stop them"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: Newt Gingrich for President
Spot: "Severely Sketchy Romney"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

Committee: Republican National Committee
Candidate Opposed: Barack Obama
Spot: "After The Election"
Market: YouTube.
Buy: None. Just a web video.

TRACKING INDEPENDENT SPENDING IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:

These numbers represent spending by independent groups, like super PACs and non-profits, to support or oppose a particular candidate for the presidency in 2012. Fundrace will update this spending daily to help show which candidates are gaining from the proliferation of independent groups in this coming election.

Newt Gingrich (R), $12,817,294 to support, $18,881,563 to oppose. (+$50,002)
Rick Santorum (R), $7,396,653 to support, $18,272,029 to oppose. (+$218,064)
Mitt Romney (R), $2,525,334 to support, $6,461,014 to oppose.
Rick Perry (R), $4,167,697 to support, $1,404 to oppose.
Ron Paul (R), $3,748,218 to support, $214,158 to oppose.
Jon Huntsman (R), $2,453,204 to support, $0 to oppose.
Barack Obama (D), $282,298 to support, $929,322 to oppose.
Herman Cain (R), $501,717 to support, $954 to oppose.
Gary Johnson (R), $518 to support, $0 to oppose.

RECENT INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES

Indiana Values Super PAC, $51,694 to oppose Richard Mourdock for Senate in Indiana.
The American Foundations Committee Inc., $58,365 to support George Holding for Congress in North Carolina's 13th District.
Restore Our Future, $100,000 to oppose Rick Santorum for President in Wisconsin.
SEIU COPE, $13,062 to support Rob Garagiola for Congress in Maryland's 6th District.
Restore Our Future, $118,064 to oppose Rick Santorum for President in Wisconsin.
Winning Our Future, $50,002 to support Newt Gingrich for President in Louisiana.

RECENT POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE REGISTRATIONS

American Term Limits Party PAC, Fitchburg, Mich., Treasurer: Carol Baker.
Vermont Troopers Association PAC, Montpelier, Vt., Treasurer: William DeVenau.
Jobs, Energy And Our Founding Fathers PAC, Alexandria, Va., Treasurer: Lisa Lisker. (Leadership PAC: Rep. Jeff Duncan)
Sustainability and Corporate Accountability PAC, Chico, Calif., Treasurer: Robert E. Stanley II.

Send tips, hints, submissions, rumors to HuffPost Fundrace at paulblumenthal@huffingtonpost.com.

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