WASHINGTON, United States, Oct 28 – Many think the Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump political duel is the greatest political rivalry of our time.
Well, the enormity of the moment is also captured in the amount of cash going into the campaigns – some $6.6 billion (roughly Sh660 billion) – the highest in the history of US elections.
“In a campaign that has broken new ground in lots of ways, there’s at least one thing we can depend on, and that’s record-breaking spending on US elections,” said Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director of the Centre for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan watchdog that tracks money in US politics.
By the time it’s all over, some $86.5 million more will have been spent than the last presidential cycle, but it could be much higher – this is a conservative estimate, CRP predicts.
She explained that the spike in spending compared to four years ago comes from outside money groups that purportedly work independently from candidates.
For every candidate, there’s always an official campaign committee. But for every White House candidate, there is usually at least one super Political Action Committee (PAC) or other outside organisation devoted to getting him or her elected.
“These groups can solicit unlimited donations and later use them to pummel rivals – or, as seems to be the case this cycle, take on some of the duties traditionally handled by a campaign, such as organizing town hall meetings or doing voter outreach.”
Outside groups aren’t allowed to coordinate with official campaign committees, but they’re often run by friends and former staffers – even family members – of the candidate they’re helping.
The amount raised by the candidates stands at $1,228 million and the amount raised by super PACs supporting their campaigns is $576 million.
For Clinton, the candidate committee money raised stands at $445,412,163, while outside money stands at $171,240,103.
For Trump, candidate committee money is at $218,763,241 and outside money at $214,496,514.
Krumholz explains that even though there are limits to individual contributions to a candidate, one can make out huge cheques to organisations that support the candidates.
“Transparency is the big challenge I think here. We want people to have access to credible, reliable accurate information so that they can be active in their civic engagement. At the point at which we prevent the people knowing where the money is coming from, we are tying one hand behind their back. They cannot be as effective in protecting and advocating their self interest and the national interest.”
In Kenya, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) recently gazetted campaign funding limits, with political parties being able to receive up to Sh15.03 billion in contributions with a single source limited to Sh3 billion.
Presidential candidates are limited to spending Sh5.25 billion while those contesting for the Governor, Senator and Woman Representative are allowed to spend up to Sh433 million.
An aspiring MP can spend up to Sh33.4 million while a contestant for a Member of the County Assembly is allowed up to Sh10.3 million.