The 2012 primaries' push into January means we may not know who's funding the candidates' shadow PACs until it's too late
New Year's in Iowa. Campaign ads over Christmas. These are some of the dismal prospects facing campaign junkies now that the 2012 calendar is once again being pushed into early January.
But there's another consequence to the frontloaded primary schedule: A virtual black box for campaign cash.
The first campaign-finance reporting deadline for the new Super PACs, which can accept donations of unlimited size but must report their donors, isn't until Jan. 31.
That's the newly decreed date of Florida's primary, which is expected -- after a lot of early-state jostling and threats of a New Hampshire primary sometime around Halloween -- to be the fifth contest on the calendar.
Thus, that influential -- often decisive -- streak of early-state primaries will be over by the time we find out who gave to the Super PACs.
"This may be the first presidential election where we really have no idea who's funding the campaigns until it's too late," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "By January 31, the first five primaries will be done, the nomination process could be all but over, and we'll just be finding out where most of the money came from."