Google Fusion!

Ohio Contributors to the “Restore Our Future” and “Priority USA Action” Super PACs

Our Google Fusion Map displays 20 contributors from Ohio who donated to the top two super PACs: “Restore Our Future” which supports Mitt Romney and “Priority USA Action” which supports Barack Obama.  By clicking on the red dots on the map you can see and compare the contributors from each super PAC, paired by rank, with one being the highest.  The information box includes the rank, both donors names, their donation amount, where they are from in Ohio, and the date of donation.

The Butch Smith We Would Like To Know: An Intimate Profile of An Underdog Candidate

William “Butch” Smith

William R. Smith is 61-years-old. Unlike most political candidates, he has no history of small-town politics, he doesn’t even have a college degree, but what he does have is a great memory for detail and a passion for the United States and it’s people. As a long distance truck driver for Prestige, he doesn’t have much free time.  He is often on the road six days a week, and spends his day off at his home in Waverley, Ohio where his lives with his mother and two cats.

He has an ecclectic mind, during our interview we jumped from topic to topic, flitting between healthcare, stories of past employers, to movies that he likes, before finally settling back on healthcare.  William, or Butch, as he is more commonly known as, is obsessed with healthcare, an obsession that stemmed from getting swindled by a health insurance company while his father was ill, a time that he does not like to discuss.

As he sits back in his chocolate brown leather easy-chair, chain-smoking Dean’s Cigars, Butch says, “I want to represent the people, not the party.”  Most of his answers to my questions are stuffed with pregnant pauses and punctuated with deep coughs, but at this point in our conversation, he sits forward, and his answers are unhindered, excited to talk about why he thinks he should have been elected.  “Yes, I think I would have done a lot of good if I had been elected.”  He discusses tax raises for the wealthy because the middle class can’t afford it, Roe v. Wade, and, as always, healthcare.

Though he lives far away from the candidates involved in this election, David Krikorian and Brad Wenstrup, he says that he knows that everybody thinks he’s just some rambling man.  He uses theses opinions to his advantage calling himself, “A rambling man for the rambling issues.”

After grilling me on my political knowledge, giving me his views of abortion (something that needs to be handled at state level), and a brief interruption by his mother, a sweet lady who so far has spent this time sitting at a kitchen table playing Suduko, who offers us sweet tea, Butch begins to wind down our conversation.  As I’m preparing to leave, he looks over at me, one of the few times that his watery eyes meet mine, and tapping out another cigar says something that makes me think he really could have done great things in Congress, “Get out of the academic and into the educational (world).”

A Butch Quick Fix Fact Find:

Full Name: William R. Smith

Age: 61

Residence: Pike County, Ohio

Healthcare: Healthcare should be provided for the uninsured and it should be made affordable to everyone

Energy: Wants to explore renewable energy options, America needs to compete with foreign oil companies and look into                       other options

Taxes: The wealthy should be taxed more, the middle class is taking too much of the burden already

Inflation: An evil demon that needs to be controlled

Immigration: Need to better enforce immigration laws which would then lower a lot of crime and the exploitation of illegal employees

Privatization: Against the privatization of schools, roads, prison, and law enforcement

 

 

Thanks to Smith’s facebook page for the photo!

Lax Regulations on Super PACs

With the creation of Super PACs in 2010, voters are now able to give an unlimited amount of money to support or oppose any candidate that’s up for election, this includes states offices as well as federal.  These groups take the donations and are able to do whatever they would like with it, though most focus on dragging opponents through the mud rather than campaigning for their candidate.  The kick? As long as the candidate is not directly involved it is all perfectly legal, and even recommended.

Super PACs have been very busy in the last few years, some doing legitimate campaigning, and others, not so much.  Some people have turned the lax restrictions to their advantage, pressuring voters to support a certain candidate or even intimidating voters into staying away from the polls on Election Day.

The “Victory Ohio Super PAC” made national news in March when it did just that.  Residents of the southern part of Ohio’s 2nd district  received a robo-call in March 2012, just days before the primary election.  As residents answered the phone a female voice urges voters to “not make a mistake and embarrass the party.  Vote for William Smith, the real Democrat, for Congress.”  It appears that many voters took the advice to heart.  Smith, an anonymous 61-year-old truck driver from Pike County who had done little, if any, campaigning, won the primary by 59 points over the more well-known David Krikorian, someone who has been a major public figure for several years now.

On March 12th, 2012, Krikorian filed a petition seeking an investigation of the “Victory Ohio Super PAC.”  In his letter to the U.S. Attorney’s office he claimed that the Super PAC violated a federal statute and that he had, “firsthand knowledge and evidence,” the specifics of which are still not available.

Krikorian seems to think that the primary election was biased on account of the robo-call.  His opponent, Smith, says otherwise.  Smith said that he believes the primary was fair, that he won the northern counties also, and there was no robo-call promoting him up there.  Smith says that he is offended that anyone could even suggest that he knew of the robo-calls, let alone that he had anything to do with them.

This mysterious super PAC is not included in the lists of official registered super PACs provided by OpenSecrets.  A very detailed list that includes every super PAC that has ever registered even if they haven’t raised any funds; the list is comprised of over 1,122 super PACs.

It is the simplicity of Super PACs that is causing the problems.  They’re new, the regulations are a bit fuzzy, and people are taking advantage of that fact. “Experts also predict that, since the laws are vulnerable, they will be difficult for state election officials to enforce,” says Kristin Sullivan, Principal Analyst, in a report titled “Summary of Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission.”

Creating a super PAC is simple; anyone can do it.  All you have to fill out a Statement of Organization form ( found here: http://www.fec.gov/pdf/forms/fecfrm1.pdf) and declare that you are starting a Super PAC.  Once all of the technicalities are out of the way, you just have to raise money and then decide how to spend it, and the choices are endless: ads, billboards, pamphlets, etc. There are no regulations saying who you can campaign about.  Nothing limiting the amount of donations that you can accept. In fact, there is only one rule that most super PACs seem to follow.

The cardinal rule for super PACs is simple: do not directly coordinate with the candidate or their campaign team.  Ever.

Many problems have stemmed from this lax system.  Names of treasures, an essential part of the Statement of Organization form, have gone unverified, and it often turns out that these people don’t even exist.  People are also hiding behind the super PAC title by making up some bogus name and telling voters to vote for such and such candidate, and voters think that these super PACs are official and know what they’re talking about, so they do vote for that candidate.

The Government Integrity Fund Action Network, an Ohio based super PAC, is one of those that seem to be toeing the rules to suit their means.  A little known super PAC, with almost no activity, they spent $1.1 million on advertising in a U.S. House race in Connecticut.  At the time, there largest, and only, donation disclosed was $10, 000.

With few rules and an unlimited amount of money, super PACs are a force to be reckoned with.  As the bullies of the election they are dragging opponents through the mud, instead of supporting their candidate.  Unless these groups are further regulated, and those regulations are enforced, future elections are just going to revolve around annoying advertisements that take candidates words out of context and make them sound like heartless individuals who want nothing more than to mess up America’s legal system.

Create your own Super PAC!

Want to jump on to one of the hottest trends in America right now?

Create your very own Super PAC! Join the ranks of “Ben Is Not My Friend,” “Hitch A Wang Bang Noodle 911 Night Long,” and “Slam Dunks, Fireworks, and Eagles Super PAC,” as well as the more well known “Restore Our Future” and “Priorities USA Action” Super PACs.

Step 1: Pick someone or something to support

-Most people choose a person, but you can pick whatever (See above picture)

Step 2: Pick a name

-There are no restrictions on this step, you can choose to name your super PAC whatever you would like

Step 3: File the official paperwork

-This is the most important step. You need to file a Statement of Organization form (which can be found here).  You will also need to include this paragraph to let them know that you want be a Super PAC

“This committee intends to make unlimited independent expenditures, and consistent with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision in SpeechNow v. FEC, it therefore intends to raise funds in unlimited amounts. This committee will not use those funds to make contributions, whether direct, in-kind, or via coordinated communications, to federal candidates or committees.”

Step 4: Go out and raise some money

-Go out and schmooze with the big-wigs, stand outside of a super market, or empty your piggy bank.  Do whatever appeals the most to you!

A special thanks to the U.S. Politics section at Ask.com for helping me explain this process! For more information click here

Priorities USA Action

Priorities USA Action is the third largest super PAC. It raised 63.9 million to support Obama, and it is the leading supper PAC in supporting a democratic candidate. Total money spent on independent expenditures was 77.7 million. All ads went to opposing Mitt Romney.

The organization was founded in April 2011 by Bill Burton, Obama’s 2008 campaign press secretary, and Sean Sweeney, former chief of staff to Rahm Emanuel. Priorities USA Action states on their homepage “we are committed to the reelection of President Obama.”

The Super PAC claims to support candidates who generate American jobs, equal opportunity for access to health care, education as an investment for the future, protection of the environment, freedom and equality in LGBT issues and candidates who promote national security.

In President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union address he stated, ” I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests” in reference to Super PACs. Since then, in the shadow of the millions raised by Republican Super PACs, Obama has appeared to change his mind.

Top organization donors are:

Newsweb Corp, $3.5 million

DreamWorks Animation SKG, $3 million

Mostyn Law Firm, $2 million

 

During the 2012 Election Cycle, all of Priorities Independent Expenditures went to opposing Mitt Romney. No money actually went to supporting President Obama.

American Crossroads

American Crossroads is the second largest super PAC in this election and it raised $80 million this year. The super PAC has a conservative viewpoint and the majority of the money is used in favor of Republican candidates. Total money spent on independent expenditures was $124.1 million. Most of the ads went toward opposing democratic candidates.

Karl Rove, former campaign runner for John Ashcroft and George W. Bush, founded the organization in 2010.  After the election, Rove received criticism for having a $300 million budget that showed little results with ads on both television and Internet.

Since the Supreme Court ruled the new decision of the super PACs in 2010, Rove and Edward Gillespie, a former White House counselor of the Bush administration and a former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, created a spinoff of American Crossroads. The new organization is named Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, also known as Crossroads GPS. It is a 501(c)(4) organization, which means that they do not need to disclose their donors, which American Crossroads must do. The two organizations work closely together.

Crossroads GPS promotes the “New Majority Agenda,” which focuses on a pro-growth tax system, healthcare, free enterprise, global engagement and financial security.

Top organization donors are:

Contran Corp, $19.5 million

Perry Homes, $7.5 million

TRT Holdings, $4.5 million

Restore Our Future

Restore our Future is the leading super PAC in the 2012 election. Its purpose was to support Mitt Romney to become president, and it was the first super PAC to support only one candidate. The super PAC raised $131.7 million to support Mitt Romeny. Total money spent on independent expenditures was $142.7 million. Most of the adswent to opposing Obama, Santorum and Gingrich.

Restore our Future believes Mitt Romeny is the only true contestant to get America back on its feet. The organization points out the importance of Obama’s failure in creating jobs and the American financial system.

Carl Forti, Romney’s political director in the 2008 presidential campaign, and Charles Spies, Romney’s counsel in the 2008 presidential campaign, funded the organization in Oct. 8, 2010. According to csmonitor.com, the majority of contributions come from financial, insurance and real estate sectors.

Restore our Future is also accompanied by the Republican leader in advertising, Larry McCarthy. His firm, McCarthy Hennings Media, produced ads for $15 million given from Restore our Future. McCarthy is known for producing negative political ads such as the Walter Huddleston Chased by Bloodhounds, Willie Horton, Ashley’s Story, Ground Zero Mosque and the 2012 Newt Gingrich’s Baggage.

Top organization donors are:

Adelson Drug Clinic, $10 million

Las Vegas Sands, $10 million

Perry Homes, $10 million