They are called “Super PACs”. They can take unlimited union or corporate funds in Federal elections. They can go entirely negative on a candidate for U.S. Senate, Congress, or even President. And they are perfectly legal and just require sending a one page, one paragraph letter to the Federal Election Commission, along with an organizational disclosure. All you need to do to operate one, is to do it entirely independent of any candidate.
As a result of the “Citizens United” U.S. Supreme Court case previously reported on in this blog spot, restrictions on the amount of contributions and the source of those contributions for independent expenditure operations have literally been blown away.
Think about that in California. With 53 Congressional seats up for grabs in an election environment already confused by a new open primary system and the work of a “citizens” redistricting commission, Super PACs offer a third wild card to the hand of those hardened political professionals looking to defeat an incumbent, or sully an upstart challenger, in the 2012 elections here. But FEC Advisory Opinion 2010-11 makes it very clear – as long as a committee discloses it’s contributions, direct corporate or union contributions to a $1 million advertising assault on a disfavored candidate is perfectly legal. Forget about all those editorials and political science thesis’ lamenting negative campaigning, rather, get ready for it, as a freer market of political advertising is clearly on the horizon for those willing to pull the trigger and use a Super PAC.