By Hope Su
In January 2010, the Supreme Court made the decision to limit the amount of money political action committees (PACs) could accept on a presidential candidate’s behalf to $5,200. Super PACs, however, are different from regular political action committees in that they are able to accept donations of any amount as long as the money is not given to a candidate directly. Through this loophole, millions of dollars have gone towards television advertisements advocating for or against certain candidates. In 2014, the Supreme Court lifted the ban on how many candidates a person can support in one election cycle which further increased the power of Super PAC’s.
Super PACs are required to release the names of the people who donate towards a particular presidential candidate but the names can be withheld from the public for months. By then, the excitement of the election would have died down and the general public would have already forgotten about it. The general public is simply unaware of just how much money goes into political campaigns.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Super PAC, Ready for Hillary, raised a startling $1.25 million in 2013 before she even announced she was going to be a candidate. Some candidates like Donald Trump are self-funded but other candidates that aren’t self-funded are spending so much money, indicating that millions of dollars are still at the disposal of politicians. The money given to politicians could be used to help solve poverty and education, which are far more important than television advertisements that do nothing but portray our nation’s future leaders in a good light.
According to CNN, one of Ted Cruz’s Super PAC’s has spent $2.5 million in television advertisements in Iowa and South Carolina and $750,000 in radio advertising in January 2016 alone. One of his main Super PACs, Keep the Promise I, is funded by hedge funder and billionaire Robert Mercer. Mercer is the head of Renaissance Technologies, a company worth $25 billion. According to the Washington Post, Mercer has donated at least a whopping $11 million towards Republican candidate Ted Cruz in 2015 alone. That’s not even 1% of his company, but it is certainly tens if not hundreds of times more than what the average American could afford to donate to a candidate.
The amount of money going into Super PACs and indirectly towards politicians brings to light the issue of the widening gap between the rich and the poor in America. Among other seemingly unsolvable issues like foreign policy and gun control, one can only wonder where the millions of dollars donated to Super PACs could be used for. We could be using that money to help stop gun violence and to keep our troops funded abroad, but instead it’s spent towards advertising for candidates that have no idea how to solve any of America’s problems.