The Best Government Money Can Buy

This report should be troubling to everyone, not just to Democrats. It tells you just how insane the amounts of money in politics have gotten when third party groups will spend many times more than the campaigns themselves do to influence the outcome of an election.

Republican super PACs and other outside groups shaped by a loose network of prominent conservatives – including Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – plan to spend roughly $1 billion on November’s elections for the White House and control of Congress, according to officials familiar with the groups’ internal operations.

That total includes previously undisclosed plans for newly aggressive spending by the Koch brothers, who are steering funding to build sophisticated, county-by-county operations in key states. POLITICO has learned that Koch-related organizations plan to spend about $400 million ahead of the 2012 elections – twice what they had been expected to commit.

Just the spending linked to the Koch network is more than the $370 million that John McCain raised for his entire presidential campaign four years ago. And the $1 billion total surpasses the $750 million that Barack Obama, one of the most prolific fundraisers ever, collected for his 2008 campaign.

And the vast majority of that money is coming from only a handful of billionaires. Welcome to America — land of the rich, home of the oligarchs.

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  • slc1

    To rephrase Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, we have the government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

  • unbound

    The only difference between the current age and medieval times is that the dukes, earls and such had to spend money on little military units to make sure they stay rulers back in medieval days…and now they spend money to keep the public confused to make sure they stay rulers.

  • Holy crap. That is seriously depressing.

  • plutosdad

    Reason had an interesting article in how the money is not all lined up behind one candidate (the official party candidate) but is making elections actually competitive. Lots of the money went towards ousting incumbents. Their position is, before we had less money, but it all went to the same people. Now there is more money, but it’s spread out (during the primaries, obviously). Since it’s more competitive and changes are happening, it is a good thing.

  • KG


    I can’t tell from your comment whether you believe that crap from “Reason”, but it’s typical glibertarian garbage. Rich people didn’t get or stay that way by laying out their money without expecting a substantial return: the candidates they are backing are, in the most obvious way, bought and paid for nominees of a handful of the very rich. If the money backing them can displace incumbents, then clearly, if they don’t do as they are told, they can be removed in the same way at the next election.

  • I agree that it’s troubling (disgusting even), but one thing to keep in mind is how much that spending is wasted.

    Look at the republican primaries. How much did Romney outspend Santorum and just barely tie with him. Look at Walker and Barrett in Wisconsin. How much more is Walker spending and it’s a complete toss up.

    That’s not to say it’s not a bad thing that our government can be bought, but even with tens of millions more in spending, the Republicans are just barely hanging on.

  • Doug Little

    It’s a good thing we have an uncensored internet then. At least you can still get your views out to people who actually do some research before voting, I’ll assume that the undecided’s aren’t as easily swayed by polished political ads or hot button topics as the firmly one way or the other, I’m hoping anyway.

    Of course there is a push by the rich to be able to censure internet content, which would be game over if that ever happened.

  • @unbound: no, they used to keep the people confused back then too. Instead of giant wealthy media corporations, however, they used giant wealthy churches.

  • @ogremk5: I don’t think the advertising agencies and cable networks think that money is wasted…

  • Phillip IV

    ogremk5 @ #6:

    Look at the republican primaries. How much did Romney outspend Santorum and just barely tie with him.

    And at the end of the day, all the money spent on the Republican primary process was wasted, since they just ended up grudgingly nominating the only real candidate they had.

    But wasteful or not, the amount of money that is going to be spent on this election is so large it is bound to have a measurable impact, especially considering that the more mud you throw, the more likely it gets that some of it will stick.

  • d cwilson


    That was the primary. The general election is going to be a different ball game. Now the only incumbants the money people will be paying to oust will have a “D” after their names. All the money is going to be put behind conservatives with the primary goal of getting the scary black man out of their White House.

    The conservative strategy for 2012 is pretty clear:

    1. Suppress the vote of reliable democratic voters.

    2. Saturate the media with superpac money to confuse the rest.

  • valhar2000

    Why the fuck does this even work? How come people keep voting for in line with these assholes time and again?

  • Real Americans® are sick and tired of ACORN and Death Panels and forced busing! Amercia was Founded on Freedom and Order and Tough on Crime! Did George Washington cross the Cuyahoga to fight for his “right” to “free” slut pills for his manvagina? No! He fought for Freedom from Big Government! Did Thomas Jefferson kick the British out at Fort Sumter for tax & spend policies that would bankrupt the nation? No! He fought for low taxes!

    Vote Romney/Bork in 2012!

  • d cwilson

    Amercia was Founded on Freedom and Order and Tough on Crime!

    You forgot Jesus. We must never forget how Jesus rode into Pittsburgh on his dinosaur to dictate the Constitution to Thomas Jefferson.

  • KG

    How much did Romney outspend Santorum and just barely tie with him. – ogrenk5

    WTF? Romney won more than twice as many votes, more than twice as many states including most of the big ones, and more than four times as many delegates as Santorum. Given how little he actually enthused the Republican base, that’s a tribute to the power of money – and organisation.

  • KG, sorry, I should have been more specific. I was referring to a specific state, not the general. My fault. And, yes, I am too lazy to go look up what state it is right now.

    There’s also, the Walker/Barrett race to consider. Admittedly, it’s an off-period campaign, but Walker is seriously outspending barrett and it’s still a toss up.

    All that being said, I’m (sadly) a great believer in the average stupidity/ignorance of the American population and the Republican ability to manipulate them. To most of the republicans, it’s not about the economy or jobs. It’s about a black man in the White House and it’s about abortion and gay rights. And the rank and file Republican doesn’t want any of the three.

  • Doug Little

    KG, sorry, I should have been more specific. I was referring to a specific state, not the general.

    I think you are talking about Michigan. Romney barely won but anybody could vote in the primary including Democrats so there could have been a skew factor in play.

  • Skip White

    So I could have won that $600 million Mega Millions a few months ago, and still couldn’t buy, er, “win” an election.

  • fastlane

    So what’s the solution? How is it possible to get the money out of elections when the people making the rules are reaping all the benefits?

  • cafeeineaddicted

    I’ve been thinking something else. The billionaires spending this money also own their own media. How much of the money any Joe Billions is ‘giving’ to the candidates of his choice ends up back in his pocket through the companies used for the promotion?

  • juice

    Shouldn’t it be titled “The best political TV and radio ads that money can buy”?

    Buying ads isn’t the problem, it’s who runs the parties and how the two parties have a stranglehold on every level of government. If anything, the SuperPACs are allowing “outsiders” to challenge entrenched incumbents and shake up the system, at least a little bit. It’s allowing these chellengers to get their names out there, when before they had to beg the parties for support. But if you think you can just buy your way into office, why don’t you ask Ross Perot, Steve Forbes, Meg Whitman, Michael Huffington, Carly Fiorina, and a long list of others, including Mitt Romney after he’s trounced in November.