As election season gets under way, loads of political cash is being spent by new and minimally regulated interest groups, and the Federal Election Commission is not expected to pass a regulation scheme anytime soon.

A report recently published by the FEC shows that independent spending by “PACs, groups and individuals” more than quadrupled between 2008 and 2010. Other data from the commission show that spending since 2010 by super PACs—new political groups that can raise unlimited funds from corporations, unions and other groups, including individuals—far outpaced spending by traditional political action committees.

In 2010, numerous court rulings made unlimited donations from corporations and unions that are not coordinated with candidates and campaigns legal. — ARK


Super PACs, as we’ve noted, can take unlimited donations so long as they’re not coordinating their spending with campaigns. Though these groups have grown in number and influence since the last election cycle, the FEC has yet to issue any rules that specifically address them and has only issued advisory opinions — which have neither the force of law nor regulation — giving guidance on what they’re allowed to do.

Individual donors along with other groups — nonprofit 501(c)s ranging from unions to trade groups to so-called “social welfare” groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS — can also make independent, non-coordinated expenditures and took full advantage of this last cycle. They spent more than $70 million.

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