If you want to know what’s wrong with our campaign finance laws – and our political system in a more general sense – look at the way Sheldon Adelson is buying the Republican nomination for his sock puppet, Newt Gingrich.
Right now, the anonymous donors to a political action committee, or PAC, can buy ads on behalf of – or against – a candidate, and spend unlimited amounts as long as there is no official connection between the PAC and any candidate. This degree of separation, however, is pure fiction: in reality, “former” aides to the candidate can and do operate these “Super PACs,” which are funded by one Daddy Warbucks or another: no overt coordination is necessary. What’s important here is disclosure, or the lack of it: the PACs don’t have to say who is funding these ads, only that the “Committee for Good Government” or some such semi-fictional entity is paying for it. In this way, Adelson – a casino billionaire, one of the richest people in the country – can drop a cool $10 million into the race (with more in the pipeline) and in effect buy the election, without the average voter knowing who is paying the bills. In short, Adelson can operate in the dark, as far as Joe Voter is concerned – and darkness is what the Adelsonian agenda requires above all.