Groups sink $64.6M mil­lion into Ind. race

Money is 700 times more than amount spent dur­ing the 2010 Se­nate elec­tion

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Craig Lyons

Days be­fore the con­tentious U.S. Se­nate elec­tion in In­di­ana, out­side groups have spent up­ward of $64.6 mil­lion on the race.

Since the May pri­mary, out­side groups, which are not af­fil­i­ated with any cam­paign, have put money into the race be­tween Demo­cratic Sen. Joe Don­nelly and Repub­li­can Mike Braun, an Evansville busi­ness owner and for­mer state leg­is­la­tor, ac­cord­ing to out­side ex­pen­di­ture data from the Fed­eral Elec­tions Com­mis­sion. The more than $64.6 mil­lion put to­ward the race is 700 times more than the amount spent dur­ing the 2010 Se­nate elec­tion.

“This is a phe­nom­ena that has been with us a while now,” said Ed­ward Carmines, a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at In­di­ana Uni­ver­sity in Bloom­ing­ton. Carmines is also the di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter on Amer­i­can Pol­i­tics and re­search di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gov­ern­ment at In­di­ana Uni­ver­sity.

Out­side spend­ing on elec­tions has hap­pened for

decades, Carmines said, but ac­cel­er­ated in re­cent years in close elec­tions. Large amounts of money have flowed into states like In­di­ana dur­ing close races for the Se­nate, U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives or gov­er­nor’s of­fice, Carmines said.

“Out­side money has re­ally be­come a mark of high-pro­file Se­nate races,” Carmines said.

The top spenders to date in 2018 are: Se­nate Lead­er­ship Fund with $17.2 mil­lion; the Se­nate Ma­jor­ity PAC with $14.5 mil­lion; the DSCC with $6.8 mil­lion; Ma­jor­ity For­ward with $5.2 mil­lion; the NRSC with $4.7 mil­lion; Pri­or­i­ties USA Ac­tion with $3.8 mil­lion; Amer­ica First Ac­tion Inc. with $2.8 mil­lion; the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors PAC with $2.5 mil­lion; the Black Pro­gres­sive Ac­tion Coali­tion with $2.1 mil­lion; and the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica Po­lit­i­cal Vic­tory Fund with $1.2 mil­lion.

In 2016, out­side groups spent $45.9 mil­lion on the Se­nate race be­tween Repub­li­can Todd Young and Demo­crat Evan Bayh.

In In­di­ana Se­nate races, the out­side spend­ing in the state has gone from $90,234.88 in 2010 to $25.5 mil­lion in 2012 and $45.9 mil­lion in 2014.

“Out­side money has re­ally be­come the rule now,” Carmines said.

The vol­ume of out­side spend­ing has ac­cel­er­ated in the last 10 years, Carmines said.

The 2010 Cit­i­zens United case took the lid of out­side spend­ing, Carmines said, and it al­lowed money to come in from or­ga­ni­za­tions with lax re­port­ing re­quire­ments for the sources of those funds.

Carmines said the re­sult of Cit­i­zens United was that it al­most en­cour­aged out­side groups and in­di­vid­u­als to put large amounts of money into races.

“Cit­i­zens United, in a way, opened the flood­gates,” Carmines said. “It’s now be­come par for the course.”

The Se­nate Lead­er­ship Fund is so far the largest out­side spen­der in the 2018 Se­nate race, ac­cord­ing to FEC records.

The PAC has spent $17.2 mil­lion on on­line ad­ver­tis­ing; postage, print­ing, pro­duc­tion; and TV or me­dia place­ment. Roughly 83 per­cent of its spend­ing has been in op­po­si­tion to the re-elec­tion of Don­nelly.

The Se­nate Lead­er­ship fund spent $11.9 mil­lion in 2016, ac­cord­ing to the FEC.

The Se­nate Lead­er­ship Fund did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

His­tor­i­cally, groups have put money to sup­port par­tic­u­lar can­di­dates, ac­cord­ing to Carmines, of­ten bol­ster­ing can­di­dates’ own spend­ing and ef­forts.

Out­side groups tend to put money to­ward both sup­port­ing can­di­dates and at­tack­ing oth­ers, Carmines said. Out­side groups want to sup­port a can­di­date, Carmines said, but are mo­ti­vated to take down op­po­si­tion.

“It’s even more they want to de­feat the op­po­si­tion,” Carmines said.

Of all the money spent, 180 ex­pen­di­tures were to sup­port Braun; 131 were op­posed to Braun; 79 were in sup­port of Don­nelly; and 207 were in op­po­si­tion to Don­nelly.

The Se­nate Ma­jor­ity PAC spent its $14.5 mil­lion on me­dia pro­duc­tion and buys, ac­cord­ing to the FEC data, roughly 84 per­cent of its money went to­ward op­pos­ing Braun.

“Through­out his time in the Se­nate, Joe Don­nelly has been a tire­less, in­de­pen­dent fighter for Hoosiers; plac­ing their needs ahead of party pol­i­tics. Mike Braun, how­ever, has amassed a busi­ness record built on put­ting his own prof­its be­fore hard­work­ing Hoosiers,” said Han­nah Hur­ley, spokesper­son for the Se­nate Ma­jor­ity PAC.

“This race comes down to what’s best for mid­dle­class Hoosiers and the only can­di­date who will go to bat for them is Joe Don­nelly,” Hur­ley said.

The Se­nate Ma­jor­ity PAC spent $6.1 mil­lion in 2016, ac­cord­ing to the FEC.

The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors PAC spent $2.5 mil­lion so far. All of its money has gone to­ward sup­port Don­nelly.

“This elec­tion cy­cle, NAR is sup­port­ing hun­dreds of can­di­dates for fed­eral of­fice from both par­ties and in every cor­ner of the coun­try,” said Shan­non McGahn, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of gov­ern­ment af­fairs for the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors. “Our de­ci­sions to sup­port can­di­dates are based on in­cum­bents’ vot­ing records, an­swers to the Real­tor PAC ques­tion­naire, and po­si­tions that sig­nify sup­port for home own­er­ship and real es­tate in­vest­ment.”

“Our pub­lic sup­port in the In­di­ana Se­nate race is no dif­fer­ent, as we con­tinue to work to en­sure the is­sues that mat­ter most to the real es­tate in­dus­try re­main a pri­or­ity for Amer­ica’s law­mak­ers,” McGahn added.

DARRON CUM­MINGS/AP

Demo­cratic Sen. Joe Don­nelly, left, shakes hands with Repub­li­can for­mer state Rep. Mike Braun on Tues­day af­ter a U.S. Se­nate De­bate in In­di­anapo­lis.

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