COLUMBUS, Miss. -- A member of The W’s Department of Communication recently spoke at a conference in Germany about the current U.S. presidential election.

Dr. Melissa Smith, assistant professor of communication, discussed the amount of money that has been poured into the 2016 presidential campaigns by Super PACs. Smith was one of three Americans invited to speak at the conference, which was held at Heidelberg University’s Center for American Studies in Heidelberg, Germany. The title of the conference was “The U.S. Elections 2016: Why Should We Care? Political and Economic Issues.”

Smith said the conference was a great opportunity to gain insight into European concerns about the U.S. election.

“It was interesting to hear their questions about what is taking place in our presidential race and how that might impact American foreign policy,” she said. “They are obviously concerned about how Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would approach Europe, and how the wave of anti-globalism will impact our election.”

Other speakers included Bill Curry, a former White House counselor for President Bill Clinton; James Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations; and Claude Barfield of the American Enterprise Institute.

The conference happened to coincide with the vote by Great Britain to leave the European Union.

“I arrived on Thursday, the day of the British vote,” Smith said. “By the next morning, when the conference began, we knew that Great Britain voted to leave the EU. This obviously colored much of the discussion, and it was fascinating to see their reaction to the Brexit vote.

“I feel very privileged to have been asked to participate in this conference, and especially to have been present during this historic moment in Europe.”

Smith’s research on campaign finance has been presented and published in several national and international venues. Her most recent book on the topic is “Dark Money, Super PACs, and the 2012 Election.”

July 6, 2016