Be Afraid of the Dark: How Dark Money Affects Elections
$5 Billion: estimated amount of money (dark and FEC transparent) spent by all federal
candidates in 2014 election.
$200 Million: estimated amount of dark money spent in 2014 midterm election.
What is Dark Money:
Money not covered by federal disclosure rules meant to inform the public of who is paying to influence their vote.
It's nothing new:
1904: During the 1904 campaign, New York Life Insurance secretly gave $48,000 ($1.25 million today) to the Republicans (Teddy Roosevelt).
1972: President Richard Nixon's 1972 reelection campaign raked in $20 million in secret donations
2012: More than a billion dollars in dark money went towards groups advocating Obama's re-election
Why spend so much money?
Answer: The more you spend, the more you win.
Here's how often the higher spending candidates win
U.S. House: 90 percent of the time
U.S. Senate: 85 percent of the time
House: 85 %
Senate: 70 %
Source: Center for Responsive Politics
Top 10 Dark Money Spenders in 2012*:
1. Center to Protect Patient Rightsâ¨Non-profit type: 501(c)4â¨Amount
of money given: $55,740,985â¨Top recipient: American Future Fund
2. Sea Change Foundation â¨Non-profit type: 501(c)3â¨Amount of grant money given: $26,986,150â¨Top recipient: League of Conservation Voters
3. Crossroads GPS (group run by Karl Rove)â¨Non-profit type: 501(c)4â¨Amount of grant money given: $13,875,000â¨Top recipient: Americans for Tax Reform
4. TC4 Trustâ¨Non-profit type: 501(c)4â¨Amount of grant money given: $11,787,800â¨Top recipient: American Commitment
5. Donors Trustâ¨Non-profit type: 501(c)3â¨Amount of grant money given: $8,832,250â¨Top recipient: Americans for Prosperity Foundation
6. Republican Jewish Coalitionâ¨Non-profit type: 501(c)4â¨Amount of grant money given: $8,000,000â¨Top recipient: American Action Network, Crossroads GPS (tie)
7. Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of Americaâ¨Non-profit type: 501(c)6â¨Amount of grant money given: $7,100,000â¨Top recipient: American Action Network
8. Green Tech Action Fundâ¨Non-profit type: 501(c)4â¨Amount of grant money given: $5,775,300â¨Top recipient: League of Conservation Voters
9. Advocacy Fundâ¨Non-profit type: 501(c)4â¨Amount of grant money given: $5,632,488â¨Top recipient: League of Conservation Voters
10. Alliance for Freedomâ¨Non-profit type: 501(c)4â¨Amount of grant money given: $4,190,000â¨Top recipient: Alliance for America's Future
*2014 estimates not yet available
*Dark Money groups as defined by IRS:
501 c3: charitable organizations
501(c)4 "social welfare" groups
501(c)5 union groups
501(c)6 trade associations
Can You Buy an Election?
During the 2014 midterm election cycle, $92.8 million total was spent on five Senate races in five states. Republican leaning groups outspent Democrats. Was it worth it? You be the judge.
In all these close races: Republican Senate candidates won.
The highest dark-money spender: Crossroads GPS, an ally of the Republican Party, dumped $14 million into "toss up" races in October alone to total $24 million in expenditures.