Super PACs undermine democracy, key fundraiser says

As fundraising for the 2012 presidential race heats up, one of the region’s leading political fundraisers says he concerned about the success of so-called Super-PACs in getting around federal campaign finance rules.

“It represents a real threat I think to the Democratic process,” said David L. Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, an experienced fundraiser who hosted an event at his home for president Obama earlier this year.

Cohen was referring to political committees formed by prominent supporters of particular candidates that raise and spent money to help the candidates, but remain nominally independent.

While federal law prohibits individual contributions of more than $2,500 to any presidential candidate, Super-PACs have been raising unlimited contributions, in some cases at events featuring the candidates.

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“We could easily confront a situation in the presidential race where the Super-PACs in combination spend more money on the race than the presidential campaigns,” Cohen said.

Court decisions and rulings by the Federal Election Commission have allowed Super-PACs and their related non-profits to raise millions, in some cases keeping the identities of donors secret.

President Obama’s supporters have created a Super-PAC called Priorities USA. Cohen says he and other Comcast executives don’t contribute to Super-PACs or so called 527 groups that shield donors.

“We participate actively in the process but we participate through candidate PACs through full disclosure (and) through party PACs and party committee PACs with full disclosure of our participation,” Cohen said.

Cohen noted that he’s also raised money for Republicans including House majority leader Eric Cantor, and he follows the same rule in those efforts.

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