Citizens United

Oh the Irony! Big Money Anti-Citizens United SuperPAC Demonstrates Frequent Impotence of Big Money in Politics


Perfectly lovely irony reported in Politico today:

Mayday PAC burst onto the political scene in the spring of 2014 with grandiose designs to elect a pro-campaign finance reform majority to the U.S. Congress by 2016. The 2014 cycle was a test run of sorts — with the group spending more than $10 million on a slate of candidates ostensibly united only in their belief in curbing the influence of big donors, lobbyists and money in the political system.

It was money down the drain.

Senate hopefuls Rick Weiland and Greg Orman and House candidates Paul Clements, Staci Appel and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter — all lost, despite Mayday's much-touted, high-profile investments in those races. The setbacks across the country on Tuesday follow on the heels of a loss in the New Hampshire primary, when Mayday PAC backed a losing GOP challenger to Scott Brown. In the only race where Mayday PAC backed a winner — supporting Republican Rep. Walter Jones' in North Carolina — it was hard-pressed to claim credit, since Jones' reelection to a safe GOP seat was all-but assured without outside help….

[Harvard Professor Larry] Lessig [figurehead of the PAC] did not respond to multiple phone calls from POLITICO in the aftermath of Tuesday's election. That's a marked change from earlier, when he and his allies assiduously courted media coverage – to great effect.

A PR firm representing Lessig declined requests to make him available and sent this statement from him: "It was a tough night across the board for supporters of reform, but we're glad we engaged in this fight. We feel confident that we made progress and we're collecting and examining data over the next couple of days that can illustrate the impact that Mayday achieved in our races. The fight to root out corruption in our politics is one of the most important in our time and we will continue to pursue it with fierce urgency."

Free political expression defenders, you can never rest—Lessig and his ilk will always be out there ready to beat you. 

Reason on Citizens United and money in politics.

UPDATE: As per the comment thread, of course, in only two of the races Politico lists (Appel and Shea-Porter) did the candidate Lessig's folk supported outspend their opponent, so those on the anti-free-speech side could fairly just say, hey, we don't only need to spend $10 million to shut up our adversaries–we need to spend more than the more pro-free-speech candidate. And perhaps next time they will try to.

NEXT: Chart: Why Felon Disenfranchisement Matters

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  1. The obvious retort is that they couldn’t buy the election because they were outspent. This whole “money buys elections” meme strikes me as unfalsifiable.

    1. It’s true that in only two of those listed races did the Lessig-funded candidate spend more.

    2. The long term goal of the anti-spending camp is to spend as much as it takes to win, then make it illegal for everyone else.

    3. Has anyone tallied up how much each side spent and compared them yet?

      1. I’m out the cost of a stamp. I won nothing. Looks like I got out of it what I put into it.

      2. It would also be interesting to compare the amount spent trying to overturn Citizen’s United with the amount actually raised and spent by the Citizen’s United PAC.

    4. This whole “money buys elections” meme strikes me as unfalsifiable.

      If I pay any attention to a political ad, it generally results in digging into the truth of claims. Any lie — that guy/gal is out. Attack ads generally backfire, unless specific alternative approaches are given, which is rare.

      I don’t know many people who are really “swayed” by ads. The critical thinkers look at actions and records; the LIVs aren’t sufficiently aware.

      1. The critical thinkers

        are not the average voter. I think attack ads work so far as they motivate the base, people who were already likely to vote for the TEAM’s candidate, if at all.

        1. Political ads also motivate the opposition. An ad telling me the candidate will protect me by passing “gun safety” legislation will get my attention, but not in the way the authors want.

  2. I would be all about limiting corporate campaign financing if they included Unions on the list of those restricted. As it stands, Unions are free to force members to pay for campaign funding that the member may actually oppose and there’s nothing they can do about it. When you list the top political donors Unions dominate the list. Without removing them from the equation as well the argument is moot.

    1. No chaining up the other guy to make your own fetters more acceptable. No limits on speech, period.

      1. I agree that there shouldn’t be limits at all, but I would feel less opposed to restrictions if Unions were excluded as well.

        Growing up in Boston and watching the way Unions dominate the political landscape makes me believe that the outcome would benefit liberty more in the long run.

        1. If only we could always hope for equality in tyranny.

          1. I know, speech is speech but I really fucking hate Unions.

  3. That much irony should be lethal to humans. I guess maybe they’ve built up a tolerance though.

    1. Do you survive the creation of an anti super-pac super-pac if your irony tolerance isn’t already astronomical?

  4. How many times have I heard ‘fake scandal’ with regards to this administration?

    From those same people I keep hearing ‘racism’, ‘war on women’, ‘global warming’, ‘grandma over the cliff’, ‘denying women birth control’, ‘corporations are not people’, ‘you didn’t build that’, ‘do your fair share’, ‘businesses don’t create jobs’, ‘the recession is over’, ‘they want to put you back in chains’, etc, etc.

    Just today I heard with regards to the mid-term ass whipping they received I heard ‘Koch money bought the Senate’, ‘blacks were elected by the right because they are white supremacists’ , ‘the republicans electing blacks is not progress’, ‘republican women are suffering from false consciousness’, ‘only old white men vote’, ‘ now we will all lose our healthcare’, ‘the country is over’, and so on. Endless rationalization.

    1. What we have is a party that is incapable of taking responsibility, incapable of telling the truth, manufactures fake narratives and fake issues, and fake excuses. Fucking liars. How can anyone give their loyalty to a party that has no loyalty to the truth, and thus no loyalty to its country or its supporters. The party is composed of people who seek power for its own sake and thus the party exists for its own sake.

      I want Obumbles to put the pedal to the metal. Go for it Barry. Give executive amnesty…put a knife in the heart of the Democrat party. It is past time for the progressive movement and your party to fade away. I hope soon it will be seen for what it so clearly was; a failure.

      1. Really, it should be the GOP vs. the LP.

        1. I would be more comfortable with that, but I am also ok with liberty minded people taking over the GOP and purging the progressives from the party.

          Progressives spitting in the face of truth, wiping their asses with the constitution, seeking power for the sake of power and lying with every breath to do it makes me want to engage in an ancient style erasure of them. Chisel the faces off of every monument to them, blot them from every history book. Eradicate every mention of them. They are a stain on our country.

          In case no one has noticed, I hate them.

          1. I’d really like to try freedom and free markets again. You know, just for a change of pace.

            1. “Free shit!”

              1. No, but perhaps cheaper great stuff.

                1. Well said. 😎

                2. “…cheaper great stuff…”

                  If we tried what you say every single product we buy would be like computers. Innovation and falling prices would be nearly impossible to keep up with. We would all be wealthy beyond our imaginings. Humankind would leap forward a thousand years overnight.

                  Ok, maybe that is an exaggeration, but the premise is solid.

                  1. I’m just sayin’, maybe screaming wealth, accelerated advances in science and technology. . .maybe we should try these things.

                  2. But, but, DEFLATION!!!


          2. I hear you man. I feel hypocritical for demonizing the opposition, but more and more I really believe that some of them are truly vile. And I have minimal doubt that if in a position of power, they’d be putting us in camps.

        2. Just remember, the progressives still wouldn’t go away. They’d just infest the GOP and LP.

      2. Obama’s press conference yesterday showed him to be the kind of guy who responds to getting shot down by a woman with “she must be a lesbian.”

      3. How can anyone give their loyalty to a party that has no loyalty to the truth

        Tribalism? I believe D’s are worse than R’s in this regard, but I think both parties are only interested in power. Lies, deflection, misinformation and general manipulation are all in the playbook. Combine that with people’s need to “fit in” socially and you get loyalty to a party that has no loyalty to the truth.

  5. NYT = Democracy is Subverted by teh GOP Monies!

    Actual Facts = Almost Same Amount Spent by Both Parties

    Not even mentioning the fact that incumbents rarely ever spend as much or more than challenger candidates… making this idea that ‘the GOP spent more!’ sort of… well, unsurprising. Why would dems want to publically hyperventilate about GOP spending? Maybe they don’t feel quite as comfortable about defending their actual *track record* and policy?…

    1. The problem, according to the Times, is that Republicans are allowed to spend money on campaigns, or, in fact, run for office at all.

    2. As far as I can tell, this is another nail in the coffin of the New York Times.

      That dude used to work for Rolling Stone.

      1. Strange how often and how flagrantly the left has to lie about everything. If they’re so right, how come reality has to be distorted to make them appear to be right?

      2. Hard to say which of those publications is less relevant.

        1. They should merge. The Rolling Times? The Stone?

          1. The NYT already has a regular feature online called The Stone, which gives academics a space to write about philosophy.

            So I guess that answers my question above.

            1. The Ontology of Delusion: A Self-Examination.

    3. This morning the paper-paper had a Hearst Washington Bureau ‘analysis’ in which “dark money” was identified as a cause of the D loses.
      One sentence down from the sub-head, the totals showed the Ds out-spending the Rs my some non-trivial amount.
      If you’re gonna lie, you shouldn’t do it so obviously.

      1. Dark money. Is that like dark matter?

        1. It is money that you can’t see, can’t count, can’t find the origin of, can’t account for in any way but you are sure it was there. It has to be.

          1. Ah, that must be the “M” in M-theory. Money.

          2. Dark money is the money that you can’t see or document, but you know must be there because of the observed effects.

            Dark matter, we know it exists because galaxies are slowing down.

            Dark money, we know it exists because Republican’s won.


            1. I see. Really, that’s very logical. I mean, how else could Republicans win any election unless the entire universe conspired to make it so? I bet lefties look over their shoulders a lot.

        2. You can infer its existence by analyzing the races. Dems lost despite spending more money-money, thus dark money must be the cause. Because science.

      2. They’re not lying. They’re functionally retarded. Seriously. The prog philosophy has so morbidified the minds of its followers that they seriously can see some facts like that that directly contradict the narrative and…it doesn’t matter. The narrative is all that matters. Suthenboy says it well above; endless rationalization, facts are irrelevant.

        They can literally see concrete evidence that their side outspent the winning side right in front of their eyes and it does not matter. Facts do not matter. They KNOW what happened. They FEELZ what happened. That is all that matters.

        They are delusional, and it’s only going to get worse.

  6. “[Harvard Professor Larry] Lessig [figurehead of the PAC] did not respond to multiple phone calls from POLITICO in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election.”

    Why so coy, pal?

    1. Maybe he is hanging in his closet?

  7. Here’s another interesting set of #s =

    Total ‘outside’ (non party-committee-spending) by Senate race

    Just looking at the top 3 races that the Dems lost

    North Carolina Senate

    For Democrats $6,365,968
    Against Democrats $12,004,312

    For Republicans $13,774,015
    Against Republicans $25,246,501


    Advantage? = Democrats outspend by ~10% or so, 55/45

    Colorado Senate

    For Democrats $5,751,060
    Against Democrats $18,043,736

    For Republicans $9,420,676
    Against Republicans $21,983,631

    Advantage = Democrats, by a mere 1%

    Iowa Senate

    For Democrats $2,486,898
    Against Democrats $12,809,004

    For Republicans $12,314,483
    Against Republicans $15,661,813

    Advantage = Large, 60/40 advantage GOP

    Yet, if you would believe the NYT, the poor Democrats were drowned in a sea of Koch-Cash in every race across the country.

  8. OT: From the webzone that dares not speak it’s name…..nitiative/

    Meanwhile, the head of a union that represents NYPD police sergeants, Ed Mullins, had a rather extreme reaction to the change in the city’s arrest policy, telling the New York Post, “If the current practice of making arrests for both possession and sale of marijuana is, in fact, abandoned, then this is clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society.”

    1. Shhh, don’t tell the Libertines.

    2. I can see it now, stoners lying in the streets, bringing traffic to a standstill, stoners not working, stoners sleeping with other stoners, breeding new stoners, stoner political parties, the whole nine yards.

    3. “If the current practice is…abandoned, then this is clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society.”

      I can play this game:

      If you allow voluntary trade for a natural, relatively un-harmful substance, WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!.

      If you allow a little bit more of a natural substance that is necessary for all life and has a demonstratively negligible effect on climate systems into the atmosphere, WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!

      If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!

  9. It’s not that o don’t think large donors can’t have some unfair advantage proportional to what was intended in a democracy, it’s that the cure for this is certainly worse than the problem. You would have to limit free speech, and have some authority who decided who could support who, and how much they could spend. Then it just becomes a race to control the authority.

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