This is the final part of the article “Is America for Sale in 2012?” based on the Supreme Court’s Decision in Citizens United.

The Citizens United decision makes it easy to hide funding to Super PACs.  A Super PAC may receive unlimited contributions from an outside non-profit or a transfer from an affiliated non-profit. Although it must disclose the name of the non-profit, neither the Super PAC nor the non-profit is under any obligation to disclose where its money came from. There is nothing illegal about the ease with which a single corporate, union or individual donor may hide its contribution from the public. At the same time, there is nothing preventing a candidate who ultimately benefits from the independent expenditure from knowing the true source of the funds, which are not anonymous, but merely not publicly disclosed.

Because of the Citizens United decision, millions upon millions of dollars actually purchased House and Senate seats, governors and state legislative bodies in 2010, and its impact is being felt adversely.  Thirty-eight (38) states have recently introduced legislation designed to impede democratic voters.  For example, Kansas and Alabama now require voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration that had been in effect since 1973. Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia have shortened their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters.  Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before voting.  More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally vote Democratic including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.  IS AMERICA FOR SALE IN 2012?

Based on the Citizens United decision, the independent fundraising groups can gather and spend unlimited money to run ads supporting a candidate or attacking a rival. The leading Republican contenders, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Willard Mitt Romney, both have at least one super PAC working to boost their candidacies.   Restore Our Future, Mitt Romney’s super PAC, raised $20 million from January through June, 2011. Its treasurer, Charles Spies, was general counsel for Romney’s 2008 White House bid.  The super PACs that favor certain candidates have already begun spending on television advertising thanks to the Citizens United decision.

Candidates will continue to do their own campaign fundraising.  A presidential campaign can raise up to $5,000 from an individual donor — $2,500 each for the primary and general elections. Again, according to Citizens United, Super PACs can solicit and spend unlimited funds. Some super PACs also have affiliated groups whose donors are allowed to remain anonymous.

“The most dangerous vehicle for corruption in the political system is the candidate-specific super PAC,” said Democracy 21 president Fred Wertheimer, a longtime advocate for campaign-finance limits. “If we can’t shut them down, they are going to spread like wildfire to members of Congress, and they’re going to eviscerate contribution limits enacted over a period of a century to prevent corruption of federal officeholders.”

The leaders of two of Karl Rove’s fundraising groups promised to spend $120 million against Democrat candidates in the 2012 election cycle, much of it in the form of attack ads.  In addition, American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies predicted they will spend $2 billion between now and November 2012 against Democratic candidates, thanks to the Citizens United decision.

In 2010, the two Crossroads groups spent $37 million on congressional races.  That total surpassed the $32 million spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which many thought was the biggest outside group spender during the 2010 midterm elections.  Crossroads President Steven Law recently announced that Crossroads GPS, the non-profit group, would commence a $20 million advertising campaign targeting President Barack Obama with a $5 million buy each week.

The first ad, titled “Shovel Ready,” assails the president’s record on the economy shows rises in unemployment, the price of gas, and the national debt.  “President Obama may have inherited a recession, but his policies have made things worse for everyday Americans by running up the debt and causing economic uncertainty,” said Steven Law, president of Crossroads GPS.

The states targeted include swing states and those where Senate races are expected to be tight and include Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, and Virginia.  Crossroads GPS is a nonprofit organization that does not have to disclose its donors.  Could it be that because of Citizens United, Crossroads GPS is gearing up to purchase America in 2012?  But that’s just my take.

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