|Kenneth W. Davis Jr.|
Davis has long shut out politics, too. He remembers voting only three times – for Eisenhower, Goldwater and Reagan. Yet last year he thrust himself into the public eye by starting his own super PAC.
His group, Vote2ReduceDebt, aimed to move the needle in eight key U.S. Senate races by energizing disengaged conservative voters. It spent almost $3 million to boost Republican candidates in the 2014 midterm election – ranking it among the top right-leaning groups of its kind.
But now it’s dead in the water, with its main operatives expelled amid questions about where the money went.
Even within the free-wheeling world of U.S. campaign finance, Vote2ReduceDebt stands out as a cautionary tale for donors, activists and voters.
Since the Supreme Court helped open the gates with the Citizens United ruling, unprecedented millions have flowed into super PACs, groups that can accept political donations of unlimited dollar amounts.
But, as Davis discovered, federal election laws do little to ensure these contributions are used as donors intended.
In addition to escaping donation limits, no rules prevent the people running super PACs from using contributions to hire themselves or companies owned by their relatives and other insiders.
The story of Vote2ReduceDebt is an egregious example of what can happen in the absence of such controls, but similar scenarios have played out on a smaller scale at dozens of PACs in the last three election cycles.
Vote2ReduceDebt collapsed amid allegations of faked campaign events, destroyed records, fabricated expenses, contracts routed to cronies and a plot to siphon the Texas oilman’s money to a reality TV show. READ MORE