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Bruce Hagen, Bismarck, Published July 16 2012

Abuses by the campaign super PACs would make even ‘Tricky’ Dick blush

I remember being both amazed and fascinated by the stories of secret fundraising conducted by President Richard Nixon and his aides in the days of Watergate. Clandestine meetings, secret donors and undisclosed money were all part of the outrageous scandals and abuse of power that led to Nixon’s downfall.

But the fundraising of the 2012 election cycle is something that would make even “Tricky” Dick Nixon blush.

Not only are there billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, Charles Koch and David Koch flooding the election with money, but there are also corporations and the super PACs – organizations that keep their donors secret and funnel hundreds of millions of dollars of dark money into federal elections across the country.

Two of the biggest SuperPACs are Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. Rove’s group has reportedly bought almost a million dollars worth of TV time in North Dakota in order to run attack ads against Heidi Heitkamp. To make matters worse, ads from both of these groups are already well known for their “pants on fire” dishonesty.

Efforts have been made to pass laws that would require full disclosure from these super PACs, but each attempt has been blocked. In fact, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has led the charge to keep this dark money safe from public scrutiny.

Before casting our vote this year, we will have been barraged by the most money that’s ever been spent during an election cycle. And, thanks to super PACs and dark money, we won’t even know where most of it came from.

So when you see ad after ad making wild claims, keep in mind who’s behind them – they have a special agenda that may not be in your best interest, but will most definitely be in theirs.

For democracy to survive, total transparency is needed, so voters will know what super PACs are trying to buy.

Hagen, Bismarck, is a former N.D. public service commissioner.