This election cycle super PACs and billionaires who have been able to donate anonymously, have funded the most expensive election in the nation's history.
Billionaires, anonymous donors and shadowy outside groups funneled enormous amounts of money into this year's federal elections, as the cost of the presidential campaign surged past $2 billion and is expected to set a record. Despite grumbling among watchdog groups and even candidates themselves, don't expect serious changes any time soon.
After a series of high-profile federal court rulings, the US government's newly relaxed campaign-finance system allowed for unlimited contributions from corporations, labor groups and others; television advertisements from nonprofit groups that concealed who paid for them and the proliferation of at least 773 super political action committees.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney experienced both extremes from super PACs: Some attacked him mercilessly during the primary elections and others have supported Romney's campaign by purchasing ads assailing President Barack Obama.
The money race was as important as ever this election. Super PACs supporting Obama and Romney spent more than $500 million in ads, helping Romney especially in battleground states. Nonprofit "social welfare" organizations have spent hundreds of millions more on so-called issue ads, but they are governed by tax laws and don't have to disclose their donors.
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