Report: Reclaiming Our Democracy

Distorted Democracy: Post-Election Edition

Big Money and Dark Money in the 2012 Elections
Released by: NJPIRG Law & Policy Center

Our new analysis of data through Election Day from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and other sources shows how big outside spenders drowned out small contributions in the 2012 election cycle: just 61 large donors to Super PACs giving on average $4.7 million each matched the $285.1 million in grassroots contributions from more than 1,425,500 small donors to the major party presidential candidates.

The analysis found that just 132 donors giving at least $1 million were responsible for 60.4% of all the money Super PACs raised in the 2012 cycle.  $71.8 million of Super PAC money came from for-profit businesses.

This report provides evidence that the first post-Citizens United election afforded corporations and large donors the opportunity to use their wealth to amplify their voices far beyond the volume of the average member of the general public – threatening the basic American principle of political equality – and they took full advantage.

We provide policy recommendations to restore the principle of "one person, one vote" in our democracy - first and foremost the need to overturn the Citizens United ruling, either by Constitutional amendment or by Supreme Court revision of the decision.

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