Millions of dollars flowing to independent political groups dominating this year’s presidential and congressional contests have come from mystery and hard-to-find donors, newly filed campaign reports show. More than $8 out of every $10 collected during the first three months of this year by two conservative groups associated with Republican strategist Karl Rove, for instance, went to a non-profit branch that does not have to reveal its donors. The two groups have surpassed the fundraising of the candidate their spending will help the most — Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney. FreedomWorks for America, a super PAC that has spent more than $700,000 working to oust veteran Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, relied on undisclosed money from its non-profit arm for nearly a third of its receipts this year, federal records show. Hatch, a six-term senator, now faces a June 26 primary after failing to win the support of at least 60% of delegates Saturday at Utah’s GOP convention.
Another non-profit group, Freedom Path, has spent $300,000 on ads touting Hatch’s conservative credentials, but has not disclosed its funders. “We have a dysfunctional system for financing our elections,” when anonymous donations can fund political activity, said Richard Hasen, a campaign-finance expert at the University of California-Irvine. “It’s bad for our democracy when people refuse to be held accountable.” Using undisclosed or hard-to-track money in politics is legal, under the patchwork of court decisions, campaign-disclosure regulations and IRS rules that govern federal elections.