Since the rise of the Internet, we have been able to more easily track political spending. The Center for Responsive Politics has led the way in documenting and accounting for all the different ways money is spent on federal campaigns. Alas, tracking similar spending at the state level has been more of a hit-or-miss proposition. Disclosure laws vary from state to state, and electronic reporting of results has been sporadic.
Until now. CRP joined forces with the National Institute on Money in State Politics to produce the first comprehensive report of political spending at both the state and national levels. The organizations combined spending on candidates, parties and ballot initiatives to come up with a total for each of the nation's special interest groups. The results should give pause to those who think the biggest political spenders must be Big Oil, Wal-Mart and the pharmaceutical, banking and tobacco industries.
By far the largest political spender for the 2007-08 election cycle was the National Education Association, with more than $56.3 million in contributions. The teachers' union outdistanced the second-place group by more than $12 million...
Just to put this in perspective, America's two teachers' unions outspent AT&T, Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, General Electric, Chevron, Pfizer, Morgan Stanley, Lockheed Martin, FedEx, Boeing, Merrill Lynch, Exxon Mobil, Lehman Brothers, and the Walt Disney Corporation, combined.
I'll be sure to mention this the next time some liberal (usually a fellow teacher!) mentions how much money business spends on politics.
My solution to getting PAC money out of politics? Limit government. The only reason people spend on politics is they want the power of the federal government to swing their way; get rid of the power, and there's no reason for people to spend their money that way.