Clinton’s Lack of Public Support Made up by Super-PACs

March 6, 2016

(This article was originally published at EconBS, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

Hillary Clinton, with only $30 million raised in February far below the $43 million raised by her rival Bernie Sanders, Clinton is falling desperately short of public backing.

Fortunately, she has friends in high places. These friends are increasing their backing of her through the quasi-legal independent campaigning structures some of which are known as Super-PACs.

These organizations are a mixed batch many of them working for the collective interest of special interest groups such as the National Nurses United For Patient Protection Super PAC which backs Bernie Sanders or other Super-PACs such as the "League of Conservative Voters, Inc" has spent for instance $162,115.70 supporting Hillary Clinton.

These packs are free to support without fiscal limit any candidate thought are legally required to act independent agents not in contact with of individual campaigns.

It is easy to understand how Super-PACs could be justified legally. If there are organizations that support particular special interests then shouldn't these organizations have the right to back whatever candidate is also supporting those positions?

However, where things get tricky is when Candidates construct Super-PACs for the express purpose of skirting election laws. A famous case called Citizens United vs FEC in 2010 effectively reversed years of campaign finance reform law. An interesting note is that Citizens United Super PAC LLC has so spent $140k supporting Clinton's campaign. (Interestingly this same organization reports spending 512k opposing her.)

Anyways, the long and short of it is that Super wealthy donors who are prohibited from donating more than the legal limit to campaigns can set up Super-PACs in order to skirt election laws and back particular candidates. I do not know to what extent this is happening for the current campaign. However, it is important to recognize that a Super-PAC backed by a union composed of thousands of members (such as the nurse PAC supporting Sanders) is distinctly different than the typical organizations people concerned with Super-PACs are talking about.

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