OTR Interviews

Inside the rise of super PACs

'OTR' Super Tuesday Special: A look at the growing influence of super PACs on the presidential race


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 2, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Restore our Future, Winning our Future, Red, White and Blue Fund, Endorse Liberty, these are not recruitment slogans for the army and navy or even their football teams. They're actually the names of super PACs. Each of the presidential candidates has the support of a super PAC. Donors have poured millions and millions of dollars in super PACs this election cycle, and a 2010 Supreme Court ruling allows super PACs to raise and spend money without limits -- yes, without limits. So big money is a big influence. Eliza Newlin Carney from "Roll Call" joins us. Nice to see you.

ELIZA NEWLIN CARNEY, "ROLL CALL": Nice to see you, too.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what is the giant big-picture influence of the super PACs, and how does it differ from four years ago?

CARNEY: The big difference is this is the first presidential race in which we have seen the super PACs. The Citizens United ruling allowed the super PACs. In 2012, they are spending a lot more money. There are maybe super PACs and they spent $66 million already. The big super PACs are backing the GOP candidates.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are they contributions in the $5 range or are they in a bigger range?

CARNEY: What's really interesting so far is that the large proportion of their donors are millionaires and billionaires from big industries, like real estate and investment industry, energy industry donors. And Romney's super PAC got at least 10 contributions of $1 million or more. Some donors have given $10 million, such as the casino mogul who gave that amount with his wife to a super PAC backing Newt Gingrich.

VAN SUSTEREN: They are associated with associated with the candidates, but they are separate. There may be a lot of -- I think this is my feeling, there is a lot of nodding and winking, but they are not connected to the candidates?

CARNEY: In fact, they are forbidden by law from coordinating with the candidates.

VAN SUSTEREN: But -- I never see a -- I mean, there are a lot of accusations about the super PACs running ads that are inaccurate. But not any of the candidates have said, I want them to stop putting false information.

CARNEY: No, although interesting enough there has been negative information about the super PACs in general and specifically. So they are a double-edged sword for the candidates, because sometimes the candidates are having to answer for the super PACs and the people who give money to them.

VAN SUSTEREN: President Obama has a super PAC?

CARNEY: Yes, President Obama is backed by a super PAC called Priorities USA Action. Up until now it hasn't raised that much money. Some people speculate that's because President Obama didn't like the entities and backed legislation to provide more disclosure for these entities and had condemned the Citizen United ruling. But after recent respects show how badly the super PAC backing Obama is getting out-raised by the GOP super PACs, the president sent the signal that he will allow his surrogates and even cabinet members to help raise money for this super PAC.

VAN SUSTEREN: So maybe, maybe this is sour grapes, he doesn't like them, but he himself has been successful raising the money but not the super PACs and he wasn't going to take public financing -- he was going to take public financing in 2008, and then he did that one.

CARNEY: I think it's very much along the same lines. If you talk to watchdog groups, they will tell you, point blank, they are disappointed. They thought this was going to be a president who endorsed reforms and hasn't come forward to do that in a big way.

VAN SUSTEREN: It will be fascinating to watch and see what the aftermath is because they are rolling in the money, paying in a lot of money.

CARNEY: This will certainly be an election unlike any we have seen.

VAN SUSTEREN: They are all like that. That's why they're exiting, too. Thank you.

CARNEY: Thank you.