For incumbents, this means spending a disproportionate amount of time throughout a term in office raising money for the next election – time that should be spent doing the people’s business. My former colleagues in Congress report spending a third of their working hours or more dialing for dollars. For most challengers, this means either having a personal fortune on which to rely or having very little chance of success.
And while most Americans understand this system to be badly broken already, the US Supreme Court this year ruled, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, to permit unlimited spending by corporations and unions to influence elections. Indeed, early figures show that vastly more money is being spent to influence the outcome of our elections this fall – $4.2 billion in political ad spending alone compared with just $2.1 billion in 2008, according to Borrell Associates.
Less than a third of organizations spending money on the fall elections thus far are disclosing their sources of funds, thereby denying citizens any knowledge of who is trying to influence the election.