By Lon Anderson
Anyone who thinks elections in the U.S. can’t be bought needs to take a closer look at campaign contributions and expenditures in last May’s West Virginia Senate primary elections. If they weren’t bought, it was not for a lack trying.
Independent expenditures made mostly by so-called “Super PACs” (political action committees) totaled over $9.2 million, almost all of it out-of-state money, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). That amount far exceeded the money spent by all of the candidates and their campaigns on their elections, which combined, totaled $7,802,745, according to the latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) records.
What these numbers tell us, is that out-of-state independent expenditures—money not controlled by the candidates or their campaigns– totaled about $1.4 million dollars more than all of the money spent by the candidates’ own campaigns and the citizens of West Virginia who contributed to them.
Simply put, this means that the May primary election “was not about who West Virginians wanted,” explained Dr. Robert Rupp, Professor of History and Political Science at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buchannan. “It’s about who the political parties and the special interests and lobbyists (from outside the state) want.
“What we have here—and West Virginia in 2018 is an extreme example of what’s happening across the nation—are elections being hijacked by outside interests willing to spend extraordinary amounts of money.”