(Reuters) – Political groups that took advantage of loosened campaign-finance rules spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. This year, they’re cropping up in state and local races as well.
Wealthy individuals and interest groups of all stripes are increasingly setting up political committees that can steer unlimited sums to small-dollar contests for state legislature, sheriff and school board.
Four years after the Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot restrict spending by political groups not directly affiliated with candidates, the “Super PACs” and other spending committees that sprung up in the wake of that decision are becoming a fixture in races farther down on ballot sheets, where their money can have a greater impact.
In some cases, they are looking to bypass a gridlocked Washington that likely will not be more productive after the Nov. 4 congressional elections. In other cases, local operators are adopting tactics first developed at the national level.