Jon Huntsman: GOP Is 'Holding Company For Super PACs'

Republican presidential candidate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman announces his withdrawal from the race, Monday, Jan. 16, 201
Republican presidential candidate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman announces his withdrawal from the race, Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Jon Huntsman has become the next in a line of prominent Republicans to air his concerns and criticisms of super PACs, the campaign entities that are allowed to take unlimited money from individuals, unions and corporations.

The former GOP presidential candidate, who had support from a super PAC of his own when he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination, accused his party of welcoming one too many outside groups under its big tent.

In an interview with KSL-TV and Deseret News reporter John Daley last week, the former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador decried the GOP's embrace of massive outside spending made possible by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

"The party has become a holding company for super PACs," Huntsman said in interview excerpts published Tuesday.

Huntsman's comments were among his most pointed criticisms of political spending in the wake of the landmark ruling. Huntsman called for campaign finance reform in an appearance earlier this year on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," describing the current system as "broken."

While campaigning earlier this year in Newport, N.H., Huntsman delivered a vague response after a filmmaker asked whether he accepts corporate personhood, a principle that maintains corporations are people under the law and thus their free speech, political spending included, is protected under the Bill of Rights.

The next day, Huntsman told college students in Concord, N.H., that it would be an "outlandish thing" to say corporations are people.

Huntsman's former competitors in the GOP primary have been vocal about the need to do away with super PACs.

"Campaign finance law has made a mockery of our political campaign season," now-presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney said last year on "Morning Joe." "We really ought to let campaigns raise the money they need and just get rid of these super PACs."

While stumping in New Hampshire earlier this year, then-primary candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he would get rid of super PACs as a way of forcing campaigns to accept responsibility for negative ads.

Still, all of them benefited from the groups. Our Destiny PAC, a super PAC that supported Huntsman during his failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination, raised more than $3 million to spend on pro-Huntsman ads beginning in August 2011.

Huntsman also faced some skepticism after reports surfaced that his wealthy father had floated a sizable chunk of the super PAC's total haul.

"The law is that the super PAC must be independent of the candidate," former Louisiana governor and long-shot presidential contender Buddy Roemer said at a campaign event last year. "It says it clearly in the Supreme Court ruling, called Citizens United. Is that independent? I mean, I have a big imagination, but I just can't imagine that father and son don't talk."