While mega-donors such as Sheldon Adelson were unable to get their desired outcome in the presidential election and some high profile Senate elections, the corrupting influence of their wallets was felt greatly in smaller political arenas.
This was apparent in elections like the election for the open seat on North Carolina’s Supreme Court, where a single-candidate outside group was able to outspend their candidate’s opponent by a 5:1 ratio and ultimately win the seat for their candidate, retaining his party’s majority in the court. This was made possible thanks to a massive influx of outside contributions through a single-candidate Super PAC.
The outside donor support of candidates like that through single-candidate Super PACs truly evokes the specter of corruption. What we are learning now is that many Super PACs active in this election cycle were devoted to a single candidate. In fact, 56.5% of all congressionally focused Super PACS supported single candidates. This finding points to a glaring flaw in the Supreme Court’s rational to allow unlimited campaign expenditures, and that was the idea that Super PACs would be independent and therefore able to avoid corruption.
As single-candidate funders, these Super PACs are “tantamount to unregulated campaign committees as opposed to independent entities.” By funding a single candidate these Super PACs are showing that they are not independent. This study shows us that not only are Super PACs behaving contrarily to how the Supreme Court expected that they would, but they are in fact acting in a manner that was deemed to be a risk of creating “quid pro quo corruption.”
Single-Candidate Super PACs are having a huge impact on our congressional and state elections and are proving to be a potential source of political corruption. In fact, thanks to our new ability to spend at will on elections the world’s perception on corruption in the U.S. is worsening. Thanks to an independent study by Transparency International, the international community perceives us as having a “C” ranking when comes to corruption. I think we can be better than that ranking and can stem corruption in politics if we work together to make it so.