At Mother Jones, Andy Kroll writes:
State-registered super-PACs are getting into the game too. Some focus on just one or two races, others on numerous statewide races where a little money goes a long way. North Carolina’s first super-PAC, the Raleigh-based American Foundation Committee, has spent $ 366,000 to help federal prosecutor George Holding win North Carolina’s 13th congressional district. The biggest donors to the group: Holding’s own kin. Frank and Ella Holding, the candidate’s aunt and uncle, and two of Holding’s cousins gave $ 100,000 each, the Raleigh News and Observer reports, as did two of Holding’s cousins. Three more cousins each chipped in $ 17,000.
In Illinois, Personal PAC, a 34-year-old group that supports abortion rights, created the state’s first super-PAC in March. Terry Cosgrove, Personal PAC’s president and CEO, says his organization will be active in two-to-three-dozen state legislative races. He declined to say what Personal PAC’s super-PAC 2012 spending will be but said spending in past elections reached as high as $ 1.2 million.
Cosgrove says Personal PAC sued to force Illinois to allow state-level super-PACs—if only to fight right-to-life groups that, with Bopp’s help, have toppled numerous campaign spending limits. “Our whole argument was we just want to play on an even playing field,” Cosgrove says. “If everyone else can spend unlimitedly, then we need to as well.”
The number of state-level super-PACs is likely to grow, and don’t be surprised to see wealthy donors deploy their money in both federal and local politics—they always have. Bob Perry, the homebuilding magnate who is among the top donors to national Republican super-PACs, dished out $ 9.8 million at the state level between 2008 and 2010, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Fred Eychaner, an Obama campaign bundler who gave $ 500,000 to a pro-Obama super-PAC, also gave $ 3.8 million for state races. And Foster Friess, the Wyoming-based financier who bankrolled a super-PAC that backed Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign, doled out $ 856,170 for state-level campaigns.
How much further does $ 10,000 or $ 100,000 go at the state level? According to a Pew Center on the States analysis, in the mid-2000s the average cost of a winning state Senate campaign was anywhere from $ 5,713 (North Dakota) to $ 938,522 (California). In Arizona it was $ 36,696; in Wisconsin, $ 140,287; in North Carolina, $ 234,031. By contrast, the average cost of a US Senate seat in 2010 was $ 9.2 million.
Super-PACs playing at the state level don’t need to drop millions to make a big impact, says Neil Reiff, a veteran Democratic election attorney. In a crowded state-level or congressional primary with three or four candidates, a little money goes a long way. “If you’ve got a field with little or no name recognition,” Reiff says, “you can drown out everyone else.”
For stories regarding fatcat donors, super PACs and other aspects of the fallout from Citizens United, check out Pro-Publica’s list here.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2010:
Tuesday was Workers Memorial Day, a chance to remember the 2.3 million people around the globe who die each year from work-related causes. In the United States in 2008, 5214 workers were killed on the job, 50,000 died of occupational diseases and 4.6 million were injured at work. According to official statistics – which understate the reality, according to the AFL-CIO in its ‘Death on the Job’ Report, 2010 – workplace injuries and fatalities cost as much as $ 312 billion a year in the United States. David Moberg, one of the only remaining labor reporters in the country, writes at In These Times:
President Obama joined in the observance by signing a proclamation marking Workers Memorial Day, the first time a president has done so since U.S. unions began 19 years ago to observe the day, following the lead of Canadian unions. In a Q & A session in Iowa [Tuesday], Obama not only pledged to enforce safety laws better, he gave a spirited defense of unions.
“I’ve said this before publicly and I’ll say it again,” Obama said. “I make no apologies for it. I’m a pro-union guy.” [...]
Unfortunately, the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make organizing easier and which labor unions expected would be brought up for discussion in Congress in 2009, got squelched by the economic mess and the drawn-out battle over health care. At best, it won’t be on the administration’s agenda until 2011.