The Illinois gubernatorial election was important. The state is in dreadful shape, with huge debt and under­funded pension liabilities. But during the campaign, debate on these economic issues was overshadowed by low-minded attacks. Televised ads charged one candidate with negligence regarding the nursing homes where he had financial interest. That ad was countered with one accusing the second candidate of releasing incarcerated criminals who then committed major crimes, including rape and child molestation. Often these ads came back-to-back between innings of the World Series. I was grateful for the mute button on the television remote.

Who pays for these commercials? Not the official Demo­cratic or Republican campaign organizations, but political action committees (PACs) and lobbies whose donors remain anonymous because of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case. In a recent editorial, New York Times journalist Timothy Egan asked, “How did we lose our democracy? Slowly at first, and then all at once. This fall, voters are more disgusted, more bored and more cynical about the midterm elections than at any time in at least two decades” (“The Disgust Election,” October 23).

Citizens United removed restrictions on the amounts that individuals and organizations can contribute to political campaigns anonymously. The effect has been dramatic—and toxic. Spending from outside groups increased from $5 million in 2000 to $1 billion in 2012. Clearly the court gave the very wealthy enormous power to manipulate the political process.