The 2012 presidential elections in the US set a record for expenditures. According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the parties, candidates and organizations spent about $7 billion in all on the campaign.
Ellen Weintraub, chair of the FEC, reported that political parties spent $2 billion, political committees spent about $2.1 billion and individual candidate campaigns spent about $3.2 billion. To keep track of all these expenditures, the FEC had 11 million pages of documents related to campaign funding.
The election spending increase was no doubt fueled in part by the decision in Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission. The decision in 2010 allows political donations by unions, political action committees, corporations and others without limit on the grounds of freedom of speech provisions of the First Amendment to the US constitution.
Super PACs such as Priorities USA and Restore our Future spent huge sums on TV ads for their candidates of choice. Although corporations and others cannot give directly to individual campaigns, they can now influence the election through Super PACs. In the 2012 campaign the Super PAC's were able to play a large role.
The $7 billion spent on just this one US election is greater than the annual gross domestic product of Kosovo, a country of over 1.7 million.
Ellen Weintraub said of the amount: "That's not really unusual. [Campaign expenditures are] all record breaking." The 2012 election may have been the first in which the Super PACs spent more than the parties themselves. Super PACs are not required to reveal information about their donors.
As campaigns become more and more expensive, money plays a larger role in deciding who gets elected. As the saying goes, the US has the best government money can buy! Much of that money can now be supplied by large corporations, or rich individuals through Super PACs without any transparency as to the source of those funds.