Every time you think campaign spending can't get any more crazy than it already is, it gets worse. The FEC released a summary of the funds donated and spent in this election cycle and my jaw dropped on the floor.
Congressional candidates running in the 2013-2014 election cycle received $1.1 billion and disbursed $766.7 million in the first 18 months of the cycle, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission that cover activity from January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. During this period, political parties received $760.7 million and disbursed $573.4 million, and political action committees (PACs) received $1.5 billion and disbursed $1.3 billion. Filings submitted to the Commission in this 18-month period indicated that disbursements for independent expenditures and electioneering communications totaled $124 million and $925,101, respectively, in connection with congressional elections in 2013 and 2014.
Keep in mind that this isn't all of it. Expenditures for "issues ads" like the ones the Kochs ran in swing states against Obamacare don't count in this tally. Those are separate. Same with the NRA ads against any sensible gun legislation, or all of the funding for think tanks and faux journalism outfits. None of those expenditures are reportable to the FEC. This is also for national offices. There's no accounting on a national level for money spent on statehouse races.
Altogether, $3.3 billion has been donated to parties, PACs or directly to candidates. Of that, less than one billion was raised through traditional party committees, with Democrats having the edge over Republicans in that area. But of the $3.3 billion raised, about $2.6 billion has been spent, with the remainder in the bank for the rest of the cycle.
And then there are independent expenditures, which will now begin in earnest. Through June, $124 million had been spent. I'm sure that number is far higher now.
This midterm election could run well over $4 billion when all is said and done. Maybe even more than that.
Who benefits, besides the candidates? Television and radio stations. Cable news. Printers. Fundraisers. Facebook. Twitter. Google.
We, the people? Not so much.