By: Abby Bedore and Lucas Baker
No candidate is safe in the eyes of Super PACs.
This morning at the Washington Center academic session, Rodell Mollineau, the president of the Super PAC American Bridge 21st Century came and spoke.
Super PACs, or political action committees, are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, individuals and associations. The term “super PAC” is used to describe what is known in federal election code as an “independent expenditure-only committee.” They advocate for the election or defeat of candidates for federal office by purchasing television, radio, and other media. The most important difference between a super PAC and traditional candidate PAC is in who can contribute, and how much they can give. Super PACs have no limitations on who contributes or how much they can contribute, advocating for the election or defeat of the candidates of their choice.
In the case of American Bridge 21st Century, Mollineau spoke of his Super PAC advocating for the defeat of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. Firstly, Mollineau stressed that his PAC is a research organization. But that’s just the nice way of saying he digs up dirt on another candidate in order to create and fund political attack ads.
Multiple students asked Mollineau his thoughts on the effectiveness and ethics of using negative advertisements in campaigns. His adamantly responded that PACs use attack ads because they work. While we could hear the sighs and disagreements of students around the room, Mollineau supported his claim with this thought: If you ask a group of people to name five positive traits about each candidate, only a few could probably list them of the top of his/her head. If you ask a group of people to name five negative traits about each candidate, everyone could list all five easily.
If the attack ad is true, Mollineau believes it should be published. Although he said he’d like to see more positive ads during campaigning, Mollineau believes these ads contribute worthwhile information to the public. While Lucas and I (and a many of our peers judging by post-discussion comments) didn’t base our votes on negative publicity, we have to admit that we can, in fact, remember the attack ads and comments more accurately than any others.
Do attack ads influence your voting decisions? Share your thoughts with us below.
– Abby and Lucas