Outside and Outsized: The Stealthy Adelson Super PAC

Super PACs, introduced in 2010 and officially known as "independent-expenditure only committees," unlike traditional PACs, can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions and individuals. They are supposed to operate and spend their funds independently from the candidate(s) they support (or in some cases oppose).

PAC's, super PACs, corporate donors, and other committees are growing in importance bringing with them outside influence, huge sums, secretive donors, and stealthy moves.  The casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is just one individual who from far away Las Vegas is buying influence in two New Jersey political campaigns. To find out exactly what and when he contributes you need to enter the complex Federal Election Commission (FEC) website.

Most people learn through the media how much a candidate receives and spends following the required quarterly reports, the most recent of which was through September 30, 2012. The more intrepid reporters and political aficionados will delve deeper into the web site to find who the donors were. As a super Pac, however, its "independent expenditures" on behalf of a candidate are not included in that candidate's FEC reports, only in the Super PAC's  reports.

The fabulously wealthy Sheldon Adelson has set up a number of Super PACs for conservative Republican candidates, including one called Patriot Prosperity. Its FEC report for the quarter ending September 30 indicated $800,300 in total receipts, with only minor expenses of $26,113. Then on October 11 FEC received two  24/48 hours notices of independent expenditures. One was for $468,789 on behalf of Shmuley Boteach, a Republican candidate for Congress in CD 9, and the other was for $260,000 on behalf of Joe Kyrillos, NJ Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Although the press had reported the likelihood of candidate Boteache's support from Adelson, to verify this information one has to know the name of the Super PAC, go the FEC website and access individual reports submitted by Patriot Prosperity. That is how just a few week before election we can find out and document that a wealthy Las Vegas entrepreneur suddenly infused  a large sum of money into two NJ campaigns.

The Wall Street Journal more recently reported Adelson plans to contribute another $500,000 through Patriot Prosperity on behalf of candidate Boteach. To find out if he does, the exact amount, and whether he contributes to other New Jersey candidates we need to search the FEC site and/or Open Secrets for Patriot Prosperity or other potential Super PACs. Presumably around or about election day the FEC will receive one or more 24/48 hours notices of outside, outsized and stealthy Super PAC donations to one or more NJ candidates. And this is just a small picture of how our democracy works today.  

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