Dark Money Surge: Conservatives Buoyed by Historic Flood of Contributions

By Sarah Lazare, staff writer | ( Commondreams.org) – –

A new report from Center for Responsive Politics finds single-candidate groups have spent $16.2 million total so far—- over 55 times levels seen in 2012—- and conservatives disproportionately benefit.

Political spending by outside groups seeking to the influence the 2016 presidential election is already dramatically out-pacing that of previous years, thanks in large part to the flood of dark money and super PAC cash in support of conservative candidates, a report released Monday from the Center for Responsive Politics finds.

As of September 21, political organizations “outside the party or official campaign structure” had poured $25.1 million into the cycle—a five-fold increase over the last presidential contest, researchers Robert Maguire and Will Tucker concluded based on an analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) data.

However, when you isolate single-candidate spending, the increase is even more dramatic.

“Of the 40 organizations that have spent the most so far in the 2016 cycle—a list that includes political nonprofits, super PACs and business associations—more than half are dedicated to one candidate and one race,” the report states. “The same is true of the top 20 biggest spenders, which includes 11 single-candidate groups.”

As of mid-September, single-candidate groups had spent $16.2 million total—over 55 times levels seen in 2012, the report notes.

These single-candidate groups are far more likely to favor conservatives. Out of the 20 top spenders, only one has what the report calls a “liberal viewpoint.”

“Single-candidate PACs have been around for at least two elections, and they make a mockery of the FEC’s coordination rules,” Maguire told Common Dreams. “A super PAC founded by your best friend that does nothing but raise money and buy ads supporting your candidacy is not an independent organization.”

Maguire emphasized that outside spending so far is staggering. “I was amazed to see we are so far ahead we are of the last two record-setting cycles,” he said.

The findings follow numerous reports which show that, over five years after the passage of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Citizens United, outside spending, dark money, and corporate influence are dominating U.S. elections.

Meanwhile, surveys suggest the public opposes the over-sized role of outside dollars. A poll released by The New York Times and CBS in June found that the majority of people in the U.S. is against the unlimited flow of dollars into politics, do not think money equals speech, and want to restrict the power of the one percent to buy ballot outcomes.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

The Young Turks: “Corporate Media REALLY Doesn’t Wanna Talk Money In Politics”

5 Responses

  1. While I would like to see some kind of debates on the Dem. side, I’m pretty sure they are thinking that it’s still too far from the elections for debates to matter to most voters. I don’t know the answer to that one, but I think that might be their calculation.

    • Here you go – Democratic Party Primary Election debates (subject to change and/or TBD)

      • October 13, 2015 – Las Vegas, Nevada via CNN
      • November 14, 2015 – Des Moines, Iowa via CBS News
      • December 19, 2015 – Manchester, New Hampshire via ABC news
      • January 17, 2016 – Charleston, South Carolina via NBC News
      • February/March 2016 – Miami, Florida via Univision and Washington Post
      • February/March 2016 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin on PBS

      Candidates participating require ≥1% in three national polls.

      So far – Chafee, Clinton, O’Malley, Sanders and Webb are invited.

  2. dianna

    @hardwork_010 there not dump in money in without knowing they are getting a return on investment. Screw the rest if us

  3. What needs to be made very clear to voters is candidates banking on “dark money” PACs are drawing, consciously or inadvertently, on funds from narcotics traffickers, foreign governments, and other dangerous interests. In the best of circumstances a candidate who wins thanks to major support from El Chapo Guzman or North Korea is vulnerable to blackmail when the donor announces the illicit support will be revealed unless X happens. Nothing dramatic, just some modest policy adjustments or new strategy. But there is also the real possibility of some hefty donations for an explicit quid pro quo. Dark money is all-to-likely dirty money and the media should be scrutinizing campaign spending to see who is receiving large amounts of funding from cabdrivers like Val Putin or Kim Chee. Who is eager to send border security chasing dishwashers instead of inspecting trucks stuffed with cocaine? Dark money = dirty money.

    • ToJ – The influences cited are worrisome but pale in comparison to the gas&oil profits-hiding evangelical LLC “churches” festering in our country.

      But you are correct, these donors do expect ROI for their massive “dark money” contributions in the form of climate collapse doubting, enforcement(s) diminishing and outright subsidization.

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