As campaigns enter their final push toward Election Day, a report from the Center for Responsive Politics showing this to be the most expensive midterm election in history is concerning to anyone who worries about money and influence in politics.
"The candidates and parties alone will combine to spend about $2.7 billion, while outside groups will likely spend close to $900 million on their own — a figure that veers close to the $1.3 billion spent by outside groups in 2012, when the hyper-expensive presidential race was fueling the fire," CRP notes on its website.
Adding to the totals, however, are contributions that aren't counted in the totals. According to CPR, their estimate is based on spending disclosed to the Federal Election Commission. "Certain ads don't have to be reported, and it's difficult to get a fix on exactly how much they cost," CRP notes on its website. "One group that began running these so-called "issue ads" in North Carolina and other states as long ago as late 2013 is Americans for Prosperity, a conservative 501(c)(4) organization under the tax code; AFP, which says it spent tens of millions on such ads, and similar political nonprofits aren't required to disclose the identities of their donors, either."
The continuous upward growth in election campaign spending is why we need strong campaign finance disclosure laws and limits on the amount that special interests can pump in to campaigns.
The average voter who heads out to the polls doesn't have the power or influence with elected officials that these big money donors have. It is troubling that our national agenda is increasingly being controlled by a relatively small circle of big money donors. The fact that some of those big money donors hide behind existing campaign finance laws to remain anonymous adds to the concerns.
Our elections should not be controlled by those with the deepest pockets, nor should anyone be able to hide their identity when contributing in any way to a campaign.
Congress – the folks who benefit most from the big money donations -- isn't likely to act on any sort of campaign finance reform unless pushed to do so. And the only ones who can push for that are the voters who, increasingly, are losing their voice in government as big money donors control our elections.