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May 1, 2012

By: Jerry H. Goldfeder

Unlimited "independent expenditures" by SuperPACs in the 2012 presidential election are reminiscent of the Wild West-like 19th century before campaign spending was monitored and regulated. Back then, trunks of cash were spent on behalf of candidates, and few people knew the sources of this largess (of course, the beneficiaries knew; that was usually the point). Today, the Federal Election Commission supervises a highly regulated system for presidential and congressional candidates, as well as federal PACs and other political committees.  Full disclosure by all such campaign committees, identifying their contributors and expenditures, is required regularly and posted on the Internet for all the world to see.

Similarly, in New York City, with the adoption in the 1980s of a public matching funds program for candidates who raise a specified number of contributions from their putative constituents, the Campaign Finance Board (CFB) maintains a very rigorous disclosure and enforcement program.

After all, each candidate receives taxpayer money at the rate of 6:1 for each dollar raised.  Thus, the CFB is authorized to ensure that campaigns receiving and spending public monies are in full compliance with the campaign finance law.

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