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Mike Toomey, Bill Burton and Edward Conard: Each of these men is a close ally of one of the would-be next presidents of the United States. All three insist they have no involvement in their close associates’ campaigns. That’s because they’re helping direct so-called Super PACs -- Burton for President Barack Obama, Toomey for Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Conard for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. This role enables them to raise virtually unlimited funds from individuals, corporations and labor unions as long as they remain “independent” of the campaigns. What these Super PACs do is to effectively lift the campaign-contribution limits, currently at $2,500 per individual, and allow wealthy interests and individuals to make the huge contributions that were the trademark of the era that ended with the Watergate scandal.
“The idea that these Super PACs are independent from the candidates they’re supporting is absurd,” says Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, a Washington-based group that advocates campaign-finance reform and who has brought legal action against these new fundraisers.
Conard was a fellow managing partner with Romney of the private-equity firm Bain Capital and keeps a close association with the Republican presidential candidate. This year, he set up a shell company and secretly funneled a $1 million contribution to Restore Our Future, the Super PAC that supports Romney’s White House run. He was forced to disclose his identity after questions in the media about the origins of that large anonymous donation.
Burton’s partner is Sean Sweeney, who was a White House political aide in the Obama administration before joining this “independent” group. Coordination doesn’t have to be direct or official to be strategic and helpful. David Plouffe, the top Obama political aide, and other operatives have trained their fire recently on Romney; so has Priorities USA Action. It’s a safe assumption that if there’s a Romney-Obama matchup in the general election, Restore Our Future and Priorities USA Action will be on the airwaves in the battleground states of Colorado, Virginia and Ohio, and not in California or Texas.
This Super PAC has two invaluable assets: It enables rich Texans who’ve long backed Perry to make big contributions, and it eliminates any competitive disadvantage the late-starting candidate might have in taking on rivals who have a larger pool of smaller contributors. If past experience is any guide, look for Make Us Great Again to attack opponents, starting with Romney.
If these Big Money-funded groups end up playing a vital role in the presidential race, it’s a certainty, as Wertheimer frets, that they will surface in most congressional elections the next time. By then, all the checks and balances instituted after Watergate will have been rolled back.
Originally posted by Hessling
Good Lord our political environment nowadays is just a toxic sludge of corruption.