What is a “Super PAC”?
Super Political Action Committees (PACs) are political committees that support candidates independently from a candidate’s official campaign, and are therefore not restricted by laws that govern political campaigns. They can accept unlimited donations from companies, unions, or individuals, but are not allowed to donate any money they collect directly to a candidate, nor can they work in conjunction with a candidate or his/her campaign. They are unlike regular PACs, which are heavily regulated under the campaign finance law. Regular PACs are prohibited from collecting more than $2500 from any individuals and corporations and unions are not allowed to make donations.
What do they do?
They run ads either for a candidate they support, or ads against candidates they do not support.
Are they legal?
Yes. In January of 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) that under the First Amendment corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority: “By definition, an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not in coordination with a candidate.” In short, the Supreme Court ruled that groups of people can pool their money and exercise their first amendment right of free speech by speaking out either in favor of or against politicians running for office.
Are Super PACs Helpful to candidates?
That is subject to opinion. They can easily be construed as both helpful for candidates, and detrimental to candidates. Obviously, a Super PAC that runs an ad in support of a candidate would be seen as helpful, and an ad run that doesn’t support a candidate would be seen as hurting the candidate in said ad. However, there are other things to consider. Since a candidate has no say over what a Super PAC says, and a Super PAC can say more or less whatever it likes, the Super PAC may say something that a candidate wouldn’t say or something a candidate might not agree with.
What is not a matter of opinion, but rather a fact, is that according to the NY Times, PACs and Super PACs spent 124.1 million dollars on Jeb Bush, and we all know how that worked out.
I thought this article was about the fight between Trump and Cruz over their wives, why are we talking about Super PACs?
Glad you asked! I wanted to explain what Super PACs were first because I wanted to start the Tale Of Two Wives with something a Super PAC did in favor of Donald Trump.
Alright, what did a Super PAC do in favor of Donald Trump?
A Super PAC calling itself “The American National Super PAC”, which defines itself as “White Nationalist”, has come out in support of Donald Trump
- In ID, it paid for radio airtime and Robocalls to Promote Donald Trump
- In NH, it made robocalls saying: “We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, educated, white people,” and urged people to vote for Trump
- In UT, it made robocalls saying, among other things, “The white race is being replaced by other peoples in America and in all white countries.”
Here is a CNN Report that discusses the group and the calls, including an interview with one of the callers. CNN also states that “Mr. Trump has disavowed all Super PACs offering their support and continues to do so,” said Hope Hicks, a Trump campaign spokeswoman.”
Should Donald Trump be responsible for this?
Absolutely not. Donald Trump should not be held responsible for the actions of any Super PAC, because he can not do a thing to stop them. He has no control over who forms a Super PAC, no control over what a Super PAC says, and he can not stop a Super PAC from supporting him.
So what does this have to do with his wife or Sen. Cruz or Sen. Cruz’s wife?
Well, in the lead-up to the Republican caucus in Utah, a Super PAC called “Make America Awesome Again” ran a series of meme-like ads on Facebook and Instagram, and one in particular which pulled an image from a British GQ profile of Melania (obviously still on the Internet by the way), then Donald Trump’s girlfriend, from 2000, with the words “Meet Melania Trump. Your Next First Lady. Or, You Could Support Ted Cruz On Tuesday.”
What happened next?
In short, Trump got angry at Sen. Cruz, and said the following: “Ted Cruz knowingly … I mean, he said he didn’t know, but that’s again why I call him ‘lying Ted’ … Ted Cruz knowingly, in my opinion, had this article sent all over Utah.” You can read the whole deplorable story by clicking here. Cruz disavowed the ad, but in Trump’s “opinion” he had something to do with it.
In my opinion, Trump is completely out of line. He is blaming Sen. Cruz for a Super PAC ad. Well Mr. Trump, how can you claim you have nothing to do with the Super PAC ads from white supremacists, but now turn around and blame Sen. Cruz for this ad? Why is it that you are not responsible for Super PAC ads, but other candidates are? When you disavow an ad, we are to take you at your word, but when Sen. Cruz disavows an ad, he is lying? Once again, Trump’s hypocrisy is outrageous. He lives by his own set of rules.
Trump’s attacks on Heidi Cruz are simply outrageous. The meme ad about Melania was inappropriate, and Sen. Cruz said he had nothing to do with it, but that’s not good enough for Mr. Trump. So, he threatens to “spill the beans” on Heidi Cruz, then re-tweets insulting messages about her. He has really reached a new low, even for him. But hey, I’m just a cop.