The landmark 2010 Citizens United decision at the U.S. Supreme Court, effectively ending democracy as we know it, made it legal for advocacy groups to accept unlimited funds from secret donors while openly campaigning for a candidate. Super PACs can now also accept unlimited sums from a single donor and spend every dime on attack ads against an opponent, providing they keep their activities separate from the candidate’s campaign.
What has evolved from the Citizens United decision is an incestuous world where campaign rules matter little to the masters of the universe.
The pro-Romney super Pac, Restore Our Future, has raked in $96,667,002 in this campaign cycle according to a recent filing at the Federal Election Commission. Almost half of that has sluiced out the back door to the ad buying firm of Mentzer Media. Mentzer Media is the firm that placed over $18 million in ads attacking John Kerry’s Vietnam War record during the 2004 presidential race from money funneled to it by Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth.
Mentzer Media is closely aligned with McCarthy Hennings Media Inc. which produces political ads. Its president, Larry McCarthy, produced the 1988 Willie Horton ad that accused presidential candidate Michael Dukakis of being soft on crime. The ad campaign used menacing images of Horton, a black man convicted of murder who committed armed robbery and rape after failing to return from a prison furlough. Dukakis was Governor of Massachusetts at the time Horton was furloughed.
According to Bloomberg News, Mentzer Media and McCarthy Hennings Media not only work for Restore Our Future, but for two other pro-Romney political groups: Americans for Prosperity, the nonprofit founded and funded by Koch billionaire brothers, Charles and David, and American Crossroads, a super PAC aligned with Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s political advisor.
Restore Our Future has close ties to Mitt Romney. Its treasurer, Charles Spies, and political strategist, Carl Forti, are former Romney aides. Spies’ wife, Lisa, is finance director of the Romney campaign.
Restore Our Future has received a significant part of its $96 million from hedge fund titans seeking to keep their obscenely low tax rate. Many hedge fund execs have individually contributed $1 million or more. The idea that the average American could have representative government with that kind of money dominating elections is nonsense. That rules will prevent abuses is also nonsense.
Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported the following:
“Among the series of events held Tuesday at the Waldorf Astoria to thank the wealthy donors backing Mitt Romney was a session with the leaders of Restore Our Future, a ‘super PAC’ prohibited from coordinating with his campaign.
“The afternoon meeting was held behind an unmarked door in one of the hotel’s dining rooms, just one floor above the Grand Ballroom, where 1,000 donors and fundraisers for the Republican’s presidential campaign had gathered earlier in the day to listen to officials discuss the strategy for the final three weeks of the presidential race.
“The meshing of the two events spotlighted the symbiotic relationship between Romney’s campaign and the super PAC, which has already poured more than $90 million into providing essential air cover for the GOP candidate.
“The meeting for Restore Our Future donors was hosted by two former Romney aides who founded the group, political strategist Carl Forti and election law attorney Charlie Spies. They declined to comment on whether they had scheduled the event in coordination with the campaign.”