A new report by Ohio State University's College of Law examines the real-world impact outside spending is having on elections and politics since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, which allows more political spending by corporations and unions.
Researchers interviewed campaign insiders about unregulated donations, or "soft money." Professor Daniel Tokaji says most agree it is impacting politics, with many candidates feeling they have to "toe the line" of certain interest groups.
Graduate research fellow Renata Strause says no members of Congress were willing to speak on the record, but the research includes interviews with nine former members, three defeated candidates, congressional aides and other campaign staff members. Strause says research shows incumbents make some decisions based on fear.
Coordination between campaigns and outside organizations is banned by law, but Tokaji says researchers found the law is being carefully sidestepped.
Examples of those signals include b-roll footage or targeted talking points on a hidden link on the campaigns’ website, or issuing a press release the campaign does not expect to be picked up by the media.