It is becoming obvious that the outside groups that will raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of Republican candidates are going to outraise those groups spending money for Democratic candidates. That's going to be a complicating factor in President Obama's bid for re-election -- and Democrats have only themselves to blame.
Over the last decade, Democratic groups were way ahead of their Republican counterparts in pushing the boundaries of campaign finance legislation. Unions, environmental groups and other liberal surrogates used fronts organized under sections 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and 527 of the Internal Revenue Code to raise and spend huge amounts of money on field programs and ad campaigns.
But Citizens United v. FEC changed all that. The 2010 Supreme Court ruling, along with another case called SpeechNow.org v. FEC, allowed outside groups to raise and spend unlimited funds without disclosing donors. Republicans were ready to take advantage of the new rules, and groups like American Crossroads, the American Action Network and other so-called super PACs got off to quick starts.
Now, Democrats are racing to catch up with their Republican rivals, and it's not going great. American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have set a goal of raising and spending $300 million in the next year, while Priorities USA, the outfit that will back Obama's re-election campaign, is aiming for $100 million. Crossroads is raising big bucks at a breakneck pace; Priorities has spent less than $1 million, an indication of a sluggish fundraising pace.
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