The 2016 presidential campaign seems certain to feature not only more money than any since Watergate but also more money from undisclosed donors since the days when black satchels of illicit cash were passed around. This so-called dark money, or contributions to entities that are not required to disclose their donors, topped more than $300 million in the 2012 presidential race, and some experts believe that the levels may be far higher this time. Among the risks is that foreign money — barred from playing a direct role in the election — could be surreptitiously funneled into the campaign because it could move through channels where it wouldn’t have to be publicly disclosed.
This lack of transparency is occurring thanks to a ruse that permits political advocacy groups to claim that they are principally social welfare agencies and thus tax exempt and not subject to disclosure. These organizations court interest groups and rich donors, some of whom want the influence that political money brings but not the public accountability. It’s a win for the interest groups and the candidates; the public is kept in the dark.
This time, supporters of some presidential candidates, especially SenatorMarco Rubio, Republican of Florida, are getting into the act. Almost one in five television ads has been financed by dark money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — most of them from the Conservative Solutions Project, a nonprofit group that backs Mr. Rubio. The pro-Rubio forces are “breaking new ground,” said Viveca Novak, communications director for the center.
Full Article: A Banner Year for ‘Dark Money’ in Politics | Bloomberg.