By Stephen Stesney, analyst, First Street Research Group
We are currently watching the ramifications of this decision in the current election cycle, and as predicted, the SuperPACs prefer to channel money through outlets that do not require disclosure to the FEC. The floodgates are open and anonymous corporate, union and individual donations are pouring in. A report from The First Street Research Group showed that FEC filings show more than 430 SuperPACs registered this election cycle. In addition, the Center for Responsive Politics reports that SuperPACs spent over $100M so far in this election cycle on advertising. SuperPAC’s are heavily influencing this election cycle, yet the donors remain anonymous.
Some may argue that forcing SuperPACs to disclose their donors will stifle the freedom of speech for businesses. But, corporations, unions and individuals are free to give unlimited amounts to SuperPAC’s, forcing SuperPAC’s to disclose donors won’t change that. Media companies may pine about the potential of lost advertising spends. But greater disclosure of Super PAC donors will help the American public make better decisions. As a member of the political intelligence industry who believes transparency is the essence of making democracy work, I believe that the greater access to information on SuperPAC donors will help citizens make more informed decisions. In an age where transparency in Washington is not just desired but expected, forcing SuperPAC’s to disclose their donors is a step in the right direction and addition of yet another important factor in the constantly expanding definition of political intelligence. Stesney is a political intelligence industry expert. He is an Analyst for the First Street Research Group, the group reviews, investigates and analyzes the data of First Street and the lobbying industry to publish exclusive reports and analysis focused on the political intelligence industry.