It’s Raining Money: Midterm Election Breaks Spending Records

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Republicans and Democrats alike have been pouring money into this upcoming Congressional election, and the reasons why are obvious. Democrats have a losing trend during midterm elections, one that their issues and the political environment are making vitally important the party changes this time around. Republicans, for their part, have vastly different lawmaking goals, and a change in the power balance would go a long ways toward attaining them.

Even so, the spending level for this election is reaching record heights, with outside groups specifically providing a great deal of funding for candidate and party campaigns. More than $57 million has been spent so far, more than any election — save the 2012 presidential election — ever before. What’s perhaps more amazing is that despite a good amount of time left for campaigning, groups have already spent over what was spent on the 2000 presidential election in total, which means the final toll could reach even higher levels before this is all over.

So who’s doing all the donating? According to a PBS Newshour interview with Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics, the answer to that is only partially available in light of the Citizens United case. “On the liberal side, in the prior cycle, the most active group was Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action. Others are Patriot Majority, Citizens for Strength and Security,” said Krumholz. “On the conservative side … perhaps one of the most prominent and strongest at this point in the cycle is Americans for Prosperity, along with Freedom Partners, American Encore, 60 Plus Association, and on and on.”

She noted that funding sources for tax-exempt organizations are often unknown, and that “outside politically active nonprofits that have great latitude now following the Citizens United decision allows them to perform many of the same kinds of activities, but under a veil of secrecy, so we really can’t track the flow of money easily,” per PBS.

According to The Washington Post, one of the largest campaign donators was Senate Majority PAC, which is focusing its efforts on ads for incumbent Democrats in the Senate with risky seats. For the quarter, its expenditure reached $11 million. And of course, finger-pointing over spending is inevitably rearing its ugly head. “While the the Koch brothers are going to spend tens of millions of dollars trying to buy the U.S. Senate to advance their irresponsible and reckless agenda, we are going to continue to run smart, efficient and effective campaigns to stand up for seniors and hard-working families across the country,” said Ty Matsdorf, spokesman for the Senate Majority PAC, to The Washington Post.

Levi Russel, spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, told The Washington Post that the Democratic super PAC is making “demonstrably false and bizarrely disjointed attack ads” about the Koch brothers. “Now finally they’ve had a good fundraising month — good for them. Hopefully now the PAC can hire a couple researchers to help get their facts straightened out,” he said.

The Koch brothers, and one in particular — Charles Koch — responded to accusations and criticism regarding their campaign financing and attack ad funding. He spoke on his right to “engage in the political process,” emphasizing that “far from trying to rig the system, I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies, and protective tariffs — even when we benefit from them.”

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