Money is now blatantly corrupting U.S. politics, but don't forget who ultimately receives the vast majority of those campaign billions...
By Brad Friedman on 2/4/2015, 1:24pm PT  

In flagging Eliza Newlin Carney's piece at CQ Roll Call [subscription req'd], election law professor Rick Hasen notes that "Democracy has become a Cash Cow".

Ya think? As Carney writes:

The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling that blew the lid off campaign spending five years ago has also ushered in a Gilded Age for the booming political consulting industry.

The paychecks earned by the professionals who create and place ads, raise money, take polls, manage communications and direct strategy draw less scrutiny than the billionaire donors who now drive the increasingly deregulated political marketplace. But political consultants have cashed in handsomely, and are earning more money with less oversight than ever before.

In the three federal elections since the Supreme Court threw out limits on independent political spending, consultants have pocketed a healthy cut of the $13.6 billion spent on campaigns. In the recent midterms, which cost $3.7 billion, $275 million of it was spent by outside groups whose activities are partly or completely undisclosed. Such groups are exempt from FEC rules that bar candidates and parties from misusing campaign money. That leaves consultants who work for those groups unfettered by gatekeepers or regulators.

But while consultants may be getting a larger slice of the pie than ever, you know who else is unfettered to receive even more of that money, as the single largest bulk recipient of all that cash?...

The broadcast media companies are now profiting directly more than anyone from the disintegration of pretty much any and all campaign finance limits.

As media maven Sue Wilson predicted at The BRAD BLOG early last year after the Supreme Court's McCutcheon decision opened U.S. campaign cash floodgates even further: "The same companies which operate on our publicly owned airwaves stand to gain the most from McCutcheon and its earlier obscene counterpart, Citizens United."

She was right. In fact, more than $2.4 billion was spent --- handed to media companies --- for political ads during the 2014 election cycle, according to Washington Post just days before the mid-terms last year. Yes, the vast majority of all of that insane political cash you may hear corporate media mention from time to time, does succeed in buying politicians, but it also ends up going to those same media outlets for the airing of paid-for propaganda.

And the media outlets are more than happy to make space for it, even adjusting time on their local broadcast clock to accommodate as much of it as possible.

"Political ads in Iowa are running nonstop on Des Moines station WHO-DT. And it can hardly keep up with the demand," WaPo wrote in late October. "At a time when fewer people are watching news on TV, the station added an hour-long daily news program focused on politics --- and hired four journalists to fill the time --- just so it can sell more lucrative commercials featuring scenes such as Republican candidate Joni Ernst surrounded by snorting hogs."

The "gold rush" for TV outlets last year, as one ad exec described it, meant that money was "flooding into modest local stations in Alaska, Arkansas and Kansas --- many unaccustomed to such demand because they are not in traditional presidential battleground states."

"Nonpolitical advertisers are getting crowded off the air by independent groups willing to pay top dollar to influence campaigns," they reported.

The corruption of our political system --- our politicians, our political parties --- following the collapse of campaign finance regulation in the U.S. should be as obvious as it is maddening by now. But, if you're wondering why your favorite corporate media outlets aren't expressing sustained outrage --- or, often, any at all --- about the explosion in campaign spending by the millionaire/billionaire class in the U.S., why should they? They're the big winners. (And you, if you hadn't noticed yet, are the big losers.)

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