Democracy: Bought and Sold?
Super PACs are “super”, alright – for the 1%. They make it possible for corporations and wealthy people to spend unlimited money in elections and essentially get around restrictions on campaign finance. The stats on Super PACs are frightening. From 1998 to 2012, they drove up outside spending in elections from $15 million to more than $1 BILLION. In the process, they have made candidates of all parties more responsive to the interests of the wealthiest Americans. The Center for Responsive Politics is now projecting that almost $4 billion will be spent on this year’s midterm election, with $900 million coming from outside groups. But help is on the way – in the form of… a Super PAC! Seriously.
Embrace the Irony
So goes the saying from Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard Law Professor behind Mayday- the Super PAC founded to end Super PACs. Since crowd funding $6 million in donations over this past summer, Mayday has turned their resources toward this year’s mid-term elections, promoting “anti-corruption” candidates in Kansas, Michigan, South Dakota, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Arizona. Mayday is spending millions of dollars on media ads to support these candidates— the only way, according to Lessig, to ensure that the influence of big money gets flushed out of the political system.
Two campaigns in particular showcase how Mayday is fighting dollar vs. dollar, Super PAC style. Lessig’s anti-PAC SuperPAC spent $1.25 million on South Dakota’s Senate contest at the beginning of October. The campaign exposed Republican candidate Mike Rounds over his involvement in a state-level EB-5 scandal. In Michigan, Mayday is spending $1.5 million in a Congressional election to connect the dots between incumbent Fred Upton’s vote to prevent Medicare from negotiating lower prescription drug prices and the influx of millions of Super PAC dollars in support of his campaign from the drug industry.
Dough vs. Dough
With the November elections just around the corner, you can count on similar Mayday media campaigns highlighting candidates who support campaign reform, and you know they’ll be dogging their opponents. How the strategy will shake out on November 4th is anyone’s guess: Lessig himself readily admits that Mayday is still an experiment. What he knows for sure is that with the 2014 midterm election on track to be the most expensive ever, it’s time to rumble, dough to dough. We’re happy to watch what happens.
Tune into Mayday.us to catch the latest on these candidates’ races.