Enough to Make Kids Cry

In this update: 1. Records falling right and left in election bloodbath 2. Campaign 2012 feature on wisdc.org updated for 174 state candidates Enough to Make Kids Cry

Email date: 11/2/12

In this update:
1. Records falling right and left in election bloodbath
2. Campaign 2012 feature on wisdc.org updated for 174 state candidates

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Records falling right and left in election bloodbath
In an election season that is bringing small children to tears and most everyone else across the country to the brink of madness, Wisconsin is getting the worst of it. Our state is getting more than its share of attention from the presidential candidates and their surrogates. With considerable final-week spending still to be accounted for, our U.S. Senate race and the contest for the 7th congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives already have surpassed previous campaign spending records for elections of their kind. The unprecedented spending in both races is being driven by heavier-than-ever campaign advertising sponsored by outside interest groups that were unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case.

Citizens United has not only fueled far greater spending, it also has made it difficult if not impossible to see where all the money comes from. Some of the ads are being aired by political groups posing as tax-exempt, nonprofit “charities” that are not required to disclose their donors. Many other groups are so-called Super PACs that are supposed to report their sources of income but are often able to keep donors anonymous by washing the money through shell corporations. For example, a Super PAC known as FreedomWorks for America reported taking in $5.2 million in the first half of October, with 90% of the haul coming from a shell company in Knoxville, Tennessee established five days before making its first donations.

More than 1,000 Super PACs have been created to influence federal elections, and these groups have raised and spent well over a half-billion dollars. Nearly three-quarters of the money raised from individuals has come from the top 100 donors. Groups organized as 501c nonprofits have spent hundreds of millions more from unknown donors.

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Campaign 2012 feature on wisdc.org updated for 174 state candidates
While the battles for the White House and for control of Congress have taken center stage, they are not the only ones on the ballot for next Tuesday’s election. Contests for half of the state senate and the entire state assembly will be decided too, and the Democracy Campaign is busy following the money in those races as well. Yesterday we again updated the Campaign 2012 feature on our website with the lastest fundraising and spending figures for candidates seeking those offices.