Six billion dollars later:
The role of outside spending in federal elections dramatically changed in 2010 with the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, which opened the doors for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money advocating for or against candidates. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates this election likely will cost $6 billion, shattering the previous record by more than $700 million, much of which is due to the massive increase in outside spending.
>> November 06, 2012
The gist of the decision could be boiled down to two words: Anything goes. Corporations were people, too. And just as John Q. Public could say anything he liked about politics, thanks to an extraordinarily broad interpretation of the meaning of "freedom of speech," come election-time, so too could Wall Street, Big Oil, pharmaceutical companies, the tobacco industry, and billionaire cranks flood the airwaves with thousands of political commercials.
In the immediate aftermath of the ruling, thousands of articles were written calling Citizens United a truly historic development in the American electoral process, but one voice was conspicuous by its absence. Karl Rove did not mention the subject in his Wall Street Journal columns. Karl Rove did not mention it during his appearances on Fox News. In fact, not a word from Karl Rove on the subject was to be found in any major media. This, despite the fact that he was indisputably a leading expert on the subject and that three out of the five conservative justices voting in the majority—Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito—had been given lifetime appointments by his patrons, George H. W. and George W. Bush, and, most important, despite the fact that he would become arguably the single greatest beneficiary of the ruling.
After the two biggest political scandals of the decade, the Valerie Plame affair and the outcry following the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, Rove resigned in 2007 under a cloud of suspicion, barely escaping indictment. His longtime patron then left the White House with the lowest approval rating in the history of the presidency—22 percent.
President Barack Obama clinched a second term November 6, 2012 relying on many of the same campaign finance tools he used in his pre-Citizens United victory in 2008: party support and an in-house campaign finance operation that turned to individual donors and a web of elite bundlers to expand its reach. He received comparatively little help from outside spending groups. But that's not to say super PACs and secretive nonprofit groups had no influence on the election -- although they heavily favored conservative candidates, many of whom lost, they created an arms race that helped drive the cost of election to record levels.
>> November 07, 2012.