Super PAC Fundraising Rises by Sevenfold, Show FEC Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Sunday, January 31, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) published fundraising updates for super PACs and candidate campaigns in the 2016 presidential race. The new fundraising data shows that super PAC receipts in 2015 rose by 749% compared with super PAC receipts during the same point in the 2012 presidential cycle.

“Super PACs funded by wealthy donors and special interest groups have more influence in our elections today than they have at any time in recent memory, and their influence is growing,” said Dan Smith, Democracy Campaign Director for U.S. PIRG.  “Voters want to take control of our democracy, and across the country, they’re speaking out for reform by approving ballot initiatives and pushing for clean election laws. It’s time to start implementing solutions at the national level that reduce the influence of special interests by empowering everyday Americans in elections.”

So far in the 2016 presidential race, single-candidate super PACs have raised $349.5 million, compared with super PACs from the same point in the 2012 presidential cycle, which had raised only $46.6 million. Of those remaining in today’s primary, eight out of fourteen candidates have associated super PACs which have cumulatively raised over $10 million.

Polls show that a vast majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support overturning Citizens United and revamping campaign finance laws in the United States. Sixteen states and over 600 communities nationwide have called for an amendment to overturn Citizens United. This year, California and Washington State may put their own referendum on the ballot asking voters whether they support overturning the decision.

In November of 2015, Maine and Seattle voters strongly approved clean election ballot measures to help refocus state and local elections on ordinary people over special interests and mega-donors. Localities including D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles are now considering similar legislative and regulatory reforms to empower small donors in their elections.

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U.S. PIRG, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.