The next Senate was just elected on the greatest wave of secret, special-interest money ever raised in a congressional election. What are the chances that it will take action to reduce the influence of money in politics? Nil, of course. The next Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has long been the most prominent advocate for unlimited secret campaign spending in Washington, under the phony banner of free speech. His own campaign benefited from $23 million in unlimited spending from independent groups like the National Rifle Association, the National Association of Realtors and the National Federation of Independent Business. The single biggest outside spender on his behalf was a so-called social welfare group calling itself the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, which spent $7.6 million on attack ads against his opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. It ran more ads in Kentucky than any other group, aside from the two campaigns.
What is its social welfare purpose, besides re-electing Mr. McConnell? It has none. Who gave that money? It could have been anyone who wants to be a political player but lacks the courage to do so openly — possibly coal interests, retailers opposed to the minimum wage, defense contractors, but there’s no way for the public to know. You can bet, however, that the senator knows exactly to whom he owes an enormous favor. The only name associated with the group is Scott Jennings, a deputy political director in the George W. Bush White House, who also worked for two of Mr. McConnell’s previous campaigns.
The $11.4 million spent anonymously for Mr. McConnell, though, didn’t even make him the biggest beneficiary of secret donations, a phenomenon that grew substantially in this election cycle. In the 2010 midterms, when this practice was just getting started, $161 million was spent by groups that did not disclose donations. In this cycle it was up to at least $216 million, and 69 percent of it was spent on behalf of Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Full Article: Dark Money Helped Win the Senate – NYTimes.com.