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Jan Baran Discusses the Media's Role in Covering Super PACs

The Atlantic
March 15, 2012

Wiley Rein Election Law & Government Ethics Practice co-chair Jan Baran was interviewed by The Atlantic for an article covering the unpopularity of Super PACs and the media's role in forming public opinion.

The Atlantic reported that a new Washington Post poll found 78 percent of respondents were in favor of banning Super PACs. The article noted that in the wake of the Citizens United decision, Super PACs "have been depicted as secret, malevolent slush funds of unyielding corporate influence" and asks whether the media has "accurately depicted this new trend in electioneering or have the doomsayers been over-stating their case?"

One of the myths perpetuated by the media is that the Citizens decision "opened the door to affluent donors to pour millions of dollars into PACs." But through 527 organizations, wealthy individuals have been able to spend unlimited amounts of money for decades. "The wealthy have funded independent ads for over 35 years directly and in a variety of other ways," Mr. Baran said. "In 2004 the funding was through groups like Swift Boat Veterans and the Democratic counterparts that received tens of millions of dollars from George Soros and friends. Today, these wealthy individuals can simply give the money to a Super PAC instead of hiring the exact same consultants and pay them directly for the ads."