CNN: Senate Democrats to hold Super PAC hearings

-By Ted Barrett

February 1, 2012- Washington (CNN) – Senate Democrats announced Tuesday they will hold hearings beginning later this month examining what they see as the negative impact of super PACs on the election process.

They also will work to develop legislation to require the disclosure of all donors to the increasingly powerful political organizations.

At the hearings, Democrats will ask organizers and possibly donors to testify.

"The more the public learn about this, the more reviled they will be about what's happening," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York. "That involves having hearings and asking people why they gave and what motivated them. Showing people the affects."

Democrats wouldn't say who they would ask to testify, but at a news conference they repeatedly complained about two organizations run by Republican Karl Rove that raised $51 million last year – $33 million of which came from undisclosed donors.

Super PACs are flooding the airwaves with advertising during the Republican presidential primaries and caucuses.

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Salon: Can a super PAC be a force for good?

We talk to a former Vermont legislator whose PAC promotes progressive causes and has a plan to restore transparency

-By Heather Michon

This originally appeared on Heather Michon's Open Salon blog.

With the presidential race looking like a dull Obama-Romney plod to November, the most memorable thing about this election cycle may end up having nothing to do with the candidates.

Instead, 2012 seems poised to go down in the history books as the Year of the Super PAC.

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Salon: The grim future of campaign finance

The immediate reform fight is not about stopping the flow of money, but rather securing mere disclosure

-By Justin Elliott

January 28, 2012- It’s not even the general election season, and we’re already seeing the electoral process dominated by super PACs, funded with unlimited donations and protected by a paper-thin veil of “independence.”

The super PACs operating in the GOP primary have managed to delay disclosing their donors until next month, but the identities of who funded these groups will be public. Groups in a different category — those that don’t ever disclose donors — haven’t started operating in any prominent way, but you can be sure they will in the fall.

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Huffington Post: John McCain Goes Off Message, Predicts ‘Major Scandal’ Related To Unlimited Political Giving

-By Jon Ward

January 25, 2012- WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was supposed to do a conference call with reporters Wednesday hitting Newt Gingrich on behalf of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

Things didn't exactly go as planned.

McCain did talk about the announced topic, how the number of earmarks in Congress increased when Gingrich was House Speaker from 1994 to 1998. But his attacks on Gingrich (R-Ga.) were vague and listless.

"I can't remember any specifics," McCain said at one point.

But when a reporter asked McCain about the increasingly "negative tone" of the Republican primary, that got the "maverick" off in a direction he was interested in going: campaign finance.

"I dislike it, and the fact is that we all decry negative ads and negative tones but it does move voters and as long as it moves voters it's going to happen," McCain said.

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Politico: Obama’s not-so-super PAC

-By Glenn Thrush and Kenneth P. Vogel

January 18, 2012- Last spring, Sean Sweeney — a co-founder of Priorities USA Action, Barack Obama’s not-so-super super PAC — rode an elevator up to a donor’s office atop a Chicago skyscraper, hoping to ride down with a big check.

His pitch: Sure, Obama has made a career of railing against the power of big money in politics — but the president’s 2012 campaign needs a handful of his rich supporters to write six- and seven-figure checks to counter the hundreds of millions Karl Rove and others plan to raise for Republicans.

Sweeney’s host leaned back in his chair, pained expression on his face, and asked: “Is this what we’ve become?”

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