By Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Assistant Professor of Law at Stetson University College of Law. She is the author of a forthcoming law review article entitled “How Much Does an Ambassadorship Cost?” as well as co-author with Dr. Kathy Fogel of “Shareholder-Authorized Corporate Political Spending in the United Kingdom” in the Spring 2012 issue of the University of San Francisco Law Review.
One open question vexing voters in 2012 is how much corporate money is influencing the election. The reason that this basic question is so hard to answer is the broken system we have for reporting money in politics.
Of course, some money in politics can be easily traced thanks to the yeoman’s work of organizations like the Center for Responsive Politics, which runs OpenSecrets.org and the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which runs FollowTheMoney. But these two groups are only as strong as the underlying disclosure laws.
The loopholes in these disclosure laws are big enough to accommodate an armored Brinks truck full of campaign cash. Just like a real Brinks truck, voters can’t see through the truck to tell exactly how much money is in play.