The Sunlight Foundation, which does an amazing job of bringing more transparency to our political system and keeping track of the vast amounts of money that influence it, has released a new report on the dark money being spent in the campaign. Dark money is money from groups that do not have to disclose where their funding comes from.
Back in July, Senate Republicans successfully blocked the DISCLOSE Act, which would have required all organizations spending $10,000 or more to reveal their donors. Now we understand why.
Through Nov.1, at least $213.0 million has been spent in the general election by “dark money” groups to influence the 2012 elections. Of that, $172.4 million (81%) has been spent to help Republican candidates, as compared to $35.7 million (19%) to help Democrats. (By “dark money” we mean groups that do not disclose their donors and only are required to disclose their congressional race spending within 60 days of House and Senate elections and their presidential race spending following the national party conventions)…
As of our latest calculations, there are now 34 races (12 Senate and 22 House) where dark money groups have dropped at least $1 million.
In the Senate, the five races with the most dark money are: Virginia ($19.0 million), Ohio ($13.1 million), and Nevada ($11.7 million), Wisconsin ($10.4 million), and Montana ($7.5 million). Dark money accounts for more than 40% of the outside money in Senate races in New Mexico (71%), Nevada (47%), Massachusetts (44%), Ohio (43%), and Virginia (41%)…
The partisanship of dark money in 11 Senate races appears below (we’ve excluded Maine because it’s unclear how to score attack ads in a three-way race). What becomes immediately clear is that with the exception of a narrow Democratic advantage in Arizona, Republicans have tremendous dark money leads in almost every Senate seat.
As I’ve said before, I’ve spoken to staffers on Capitol Hill who say that the threat of such spending is used to coerce votes. A lobbyist can go into a legislator’s office and say, “If you don’t do what we want on this, we’ll spend $10 million in your next election on behalf of your opponent or a challenger from your own party.” And that threat is very real and taken very seriously. And as this shows, you won’t ever even know who did it or why. Welcome to government by oligarchy.