No, not those guys.
Yesterday, besides being the fourth of the Republican primaries, was the filing date for SuperPACs to disclose their donors (at least, those who have contributed $200 or more) to the Federal Elections Commission.
As you’ve likely heard, SuperPACs–sanctioned by the Citizens United decision and can collect an unlimited amount of money from individuals, corporations (i.e., individuals), and unions (also individuals in the eye of the law) to spend in elections as long as they do not explicitly coordinate with any particular candidate–have played an outsize role this election season, turning conventional campaigning on its head. What you probably haven’t heard is the part played by the Wesleyan Media Project in studying these groups.
The Project, recently featured on NPR, is directed by our own Assistant Professor of Government Erika Fowler alongside Professor Michael Franz of Bowdoin and Travis Ridout of Washington State University and has recently released its examination of political advertising funding sources in the 2012 campaign thus far. Their findings show that, although the total amount of money spent is less than the 2008 cycle (the result, likely, of an uncontested Democratic field), the amount of ads is roughly equivalent.
Yet the source of those ads has changed drastically–indeed, there’s been a 1,627% increase in ads by “outside” interest groups and a 40.8% decrease in ads by candidates themselves.
No word yet on whether these figures include the amount spent so far by Stephen Colbert’s “A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” SuperPAC which has raised a breathtaking $1,023,121.24–prompting the following cover letter with his filing with the FEC:
Dear Sirs and Sirettes,
Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow (ABTT) would like it entered into the record that as of January 30th, 2012, the sum total of our donations was $1,023,121.24.
Stephen Colbert, President of ABTT, has asked that I quote him as saying, ”Yeah! How you like me now, F.E.C? I’m rolling seven digits deep! I got 99 problems but a non-connected independent-expenditure only committee ain’t one!”
I would like it noted for the record that I advised Mr. Colbert against including that quote.
Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Inc.
UPDATE: The Times has a neat graphic here on SuperPac spending/affiliations/funding sources based on filings, etc.