- What is dark money?
- The history of dark money in politics
- The current state of dark money in politics
- The impact of dark money in politics
A comprehensive guide to what dark money is, how it’s used in American politics, and its potential effects on democracy.
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What is dark money?
In American politics, “dark money” is money donated to nonprofits that can spend it on political campaigns without having to disclose their donors. The term is often used in a negative way to describe the influence of wealthy special interests on elections.
What are the different types of dark money?
There are two main types ofdark money:
1) spending by 501(c)(4), (c)(6), and other tax-exempt groups that is not required to be disclosed under federal law; and
2) contributions made to these groups by donors who wish to remain anonymous.
Dark money is often used to support political candidates or issues, but it can also be used for other purposes, such as funding educational programs or lobbying activities.
While dark money organizations are not required to disclose their donors, they are still required to file IRS Form 990, which provides some information about their finances. However, these forms do not require disclosure of donor names or amounts donated.
The history of dark money in politics
It’s no secret that money plays a big role in politics. But what is dark money? Dark money is money spent by groups or individuals to influence elections without disclosing their donors. This type of money has been around for a long time, but it’s become increasingly important in recent years.
How has dark money been used in past elections?
In the 2010 midterm elections, a group called American Crossroads spent $70 million on ads supporting GOP candidates—more than double what the group had spent in the previous election. Most of that money came from a single donor: casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
In 2012, Adelson and his wife shelled out $100 million to support GOP candidates and outside groups like American Crossroads. That cycle also saw the rise of liberal dark-money groups like Priorities USA, which was co-founded by two former aides to President Obama. The group raised more than $70 million in 2012 to support Obama’s reelection.
In the 2014 midterms, outside spending reached new heights: More than $600 million was spent by dark-money groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The biggest spender that cycle was a conservative nonprofit called Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the billionaire Koch brothers. The group poured nearly $128 million into federal elections in 2014.
The current state of dark money in politics
How is dark money being used in the current election cycle?
In the current election cycle, dark money is being used to support a wide variety of candidates and causes. Here are a few examples:
-A group called Crossroads GPS is spending millions of dollars on ads attacking Democratic Senate candidates in several key races. The group does not have to disclose its donors because it is organized as a “social welfare” organization under the tax code.
-The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, another big player in dark money spending, is running ads supporting Republican candidates in Senate races across the country. The chamber does not have to disclose its donors either, because it is organized as a business trade association.
-A super PAC called NextGen Climate Action is spending millions of dollars to support Democrats who are champions of action on climate change. The group does have to disclose its donors, but many of them are wealthy individuals who could potentially benefit from policies the super PAC supports.
The impact of dark money in politics
In the United States, “dark money” is used to describe the anonymous donations that are given to political campaigns. This type of money is often given by corporations or wealthy individuals and it can have a big impact on the outcome of an election. Let’s take a closer look at dark money and its impact on American politics.
What are the pros and cons of dark money in politics?
The Pros of Dark Money in Politics:
-It allows for more secrecy and less transparency in the political process.
-It can help groups or individuals push for their agendas without disclosing their identities.
-It can give an advantage to campaigns that are better funded.
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The Cons of Dark Money in Politics:
-It can allow for special interests groups to have more influence over the political process.
-It can allow for wealthy individuals to have more influence over the political process.
-It can allow for campaigns to be less accountable to the public.