Insiders Divided Along Party Lines over Impact of Super PACs
Democratic and Republican Insiders are sharply divided over the impact of super PACs on the political process. While almost all of the Democratic strategists surveyed in this week's National Journal Political Insiders Poll said super PACs are negatively impacting the political process, nearly 60 percent of Republicans defended the influence of the committees.
|On balance, are super PACs positive or negative for the political process?|
"Freedom of speech" was the rallying cry of many Republican Insiders arguing that super PACs are a positive force in politics.
"It's called the First Amendment," declared one Republican. "Everyone is entitled to spend money to say what they want."
"Freedom of speech is enshrined in our Constitution," said another. "Folks contributing to PACs to express their political beliefs is strong for our democracy."
"It's a right, as the Supreme Court stated," echoed a third. "When people reject negative messages, then it will be better, but it's our choice as consumers to accept or reject a message."
Other Republicans argued that super PACs improve the political process by increasing the amount voters can learn about candidates.
"More information leads to better-informed voters," stated one. Explained another, "At least supporters of candidates are involved this way, as opposed to allowing the media to be the sole arbiters of what information is shared."
Many Republicans defended super PACs as the consequence of campaign finance laws capping contributions to federal candidates.
"Super PACs are the result of what happens when contribution limits meet the First Amendment," said one. "Their role in this campaign makes the case further for lifting contribution limits altogether."
Democratic Insiders lamented the concentration of political influence into the hands of wealthy donors and the lack of disclosure requirements for super PAC contributors.
"Super PACs inject loads of money into the system with no limits, and little transparency. What's not to hate?" asked one Democrat.
"Unlimited money from unidentified people. Could we think of something more pollutive of the political process? Probably not," agreed another.
The super PAC system "really concentrates the ability to affect outcomes in the hands of a few corporations and individuals with deep pockets. Opposite of a democratic process," argued a third Democrat.
Some Republicans also voiced concerns about the secretive nature of undisclosed contributions.
"The whole PAC system is a negative, and super PACS are even worse because they allow trashing of candidates without any candidate responsibility," said one Republican strategist. "Romney's allies going after Gingrich in Iowa is a good example."
"No accountability, no control, no sunshine. Thanks, McCain-Feingold," said another, echoing the complaints of other Republicans that super PACs are the result of campaign finance reform efforts.
Some Democratic Insiders saw super PACs as a symptom of larger systematic problems.
"The way we finance our politics is a cancer on our democracy," said one Democratic respondent. Another stated that the emergence of super PACs "pushes what is the worst aspect of the system to its extreme."
But those kinds of worries don't wash for one Republican Insider surveyed.
"Get over it people - money is money, and will always find its way into the process. Let's stop kidding ourselves and get on with some serious business."
Democrats: Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Steve McMahon, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jefrey Pollock, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.
Republicans: Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Mindy Fletcher, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Kevin O'Neill, Connie Partoyan, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud.