Super PACs to reveal funding, spending

Political super PACs, or political action committees, are getting a lot of attention over how they raise and spend money during this presidential campaign, and with their records set to go public Tuesday, that scrutiny is going to increase.

The messages rattle off like machine-gun fire targeting political rivals - morning, noon and night - on America's airwaves.

But these attacks are not paid for by the candidates, rather, by so-called "super PACs" - funded by millions of dollars in donations from individuals, corporations or unions, who, for the first time, have no restrictions on their spending.

Special section: Election 2012

The result: Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson - who ponied-up just over $50,000 in the last presidential election - can now drop $10 million into the accounts of "Winning Our Future," one of the super PACs backing Newt Gingrich. (Click here to see a full report on Adelson)

And movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg can go from giving less than $70,000 to Democratic presidential candidates in the last cycle, to $2 million to a super PAC supporting President Obama this year alone.

Nearly 300 registered super PACs have until midnight tonight to report the sources of their latest donations - and how they spent the money.

Pro-Gingrich super PAC invades Romney rally in Fla.
Wealthy couple finance super PAC for Gingrich
Video: Attack ads having impact on Fla. primary

The biggest super PACs supporting Republicans carry upbeat names like "Restore Our Future" - the pro-Romney group.

For Democrats working to re-elect President Obama, big dollars are pouring into "Priorities USA Action".

Meanwhile, attorney James Bopp who argued - and won - the Supreme Court case that opened the floodgates to a tidal wave of contributions, says the more money, the merrier.

"We spend more on ice cream in a given year than we do on the election of the president and, unfortunately, there's not enough information out there. People do not know the name of their congressman, they don't know the name of the vice president, much less what their policies are," Bopp tells CBS News. "So we need much more spending in order to have more informed voting."

That's certainly debatable.

What's not is that the air assault is far from over.

Political advertising on television is expected to reach an all-time high - $3 billion - by the time we pick our next president.

The overall number of GOP presidential ads on the airwaves this election year is comparable with 2008, but who is paying for them, thus far anyway, has changed significantly.

The influence of super PACs in the race for the 2012 GOP nomination is clear, with a more than-1,600% increase in interest-group sponsored ads aired as compared to 2008, according to the Wesleyan Media Project.

To see Armen Keteyian's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Armen Keteyian

Comments