The power of super PACs has had a visible and widely controversial effect on the 2012 Republican primary campaign. The new Political Action Committees that can unlimitedly funded by individuals, unions, interest groups and corporations, came as a result of the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United and the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Speechnow.org v. Federal Election Commission. President Obama has publicly disparaged the courts' decisions, going so far as to instigate Supreme Court Justices on the subject while on the floor of the House during the State of the Union address.
However, now as the super PAC committed to reelecting President Obama is on the skids, the White House is urging fundraisers to support outside spending groups. POLITICO reports on the change of heart:
"On Monday morning, Obama reviled the 'negative' tone of the super PACs, a dominant fundraising source in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. But by the evening, word leaked to POLITICO that Obama had offered his support for Priorities USA Action, which thus far has raised a fraction of what GOP-backed groups have raked in.
Obama’s top campaign staff and even some Cabinet members will appear at super PAC events. The president himself will not address super PAC donors, although there’s nothing to legally prohibit the president, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden from expressing their support for the group — as GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has done for the super PAC that backs him."
Obama for America Campaign Manager Jim Messina defended what some have called hypocrisy in a column for The Huffington Post Tuesday titled "We Will Not Play by Two Sets of Rules:"
"The President opposed the Citizens United decision. He understood that with the dramatic growth in opportunities to raise and spend unlimited special-interest money, we would see new strategies to hide it from public view. He continues to support a law to force full disclosure of all funding intended to influence our elections, a reform that was blocked in 2010 by a unanimous Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And the President favors action -- by constitutional amendment, if necessary -- to place reasonable limits on all such spending.
But this cycle, our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it currently stands.
Over the last few months, Super PACs affiliated with Republican presidential candidates have spent more than $40 million on television and radio, almost all of it for negative ads."
The decision comes off news Monday that the President's re-election campaign is returning more than $200,000 in donations from the family of a fugitive casino magnate linked to violence and corruption in Mexico who has been seeking a pardon, which Obama's campaign confirmed on Tuesday.
Sen. Roy Blunt told Fox News Tuesday that the President isn't changing his tune but only changing what he's saying publicly. Sen. Blunt also calls into question the legality of Obama's campaign staff and cabinet colluding with the Super PAC.Liberal ex-Senator Russ Feingold has criticized President Obama's decision to embrace super PACs, as the Hill reports the former Wisconsin Senator describes Obama to be "dancing with the devil."
CBS News reports that in comparison to the money that GOP PACs have raised thus far, the Priorities contributions have been relatively meager: In 2011, the four most active Democratic Super PACS raised a combined $19 million. Priorities USA netted $7 million. That said, the Obama campaign has raised $140 million toward the 2012 elections, nearly triple the money raised by Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney for his campaign.