Guess where most of the "dark" campaign money comes from?

If you said sneaky right wing nuts, the "1 percent" (i.e. superrich Americans) or corporate powerhouses, you'd be wrong. The biggest hunk of money came from Planned Parenthood Action Fund Inc., yeah them, the abortion industry. The second biggest chunk came from our friends at American  Federation of  State,  County  and  Municipal Employees. Interestingly, the bulk of the money those two groups spent was for opposing Republicans (otherwise known as negative advertising) and relatively little on supporting their Democratic candidates. And how did that spending go for you in Wisconsin, AFSCME?

You can see the rest of the study by the Sunlight Foundation of the undisclosed funding here.


Leave a comment
  • Dennis, can you explain how the link you provided differs from the link on the same web site that shows how much money is coming from Super Pacs?

    Seems like there are many millions in unlimited funds going to Super Pacs, with the bulk of that money opposing Democrats.

  • Ouch, Jimmy! Your bias is showing. Those poor, poor Dems. What, Obama can't get enough Dems to forego wedding presents and donate the cash to Obama? Is George Soros cutting back due to the Obama Recovery?

    The Dems have their own money laundering slush funds; it is called the public unions -- and to some extent the private unions. Here, you get this money from Uncle Sam so a portion of it goes back to Uncle Obama. Simple. A simple racket that the RICO standards should be applied to.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    So asking a question means there is a bias? Interesting theory.

  • It's okay to have a bias. It's not the question but the defensive way it is asked. It can also be the questions that go unasked, the omissions. It is not a theory but an observation. If I am wrong, and you are a raging right-winger, my condolences, as it is a lonely position to be in in the media world.

    Most old media in this country started as organs for political parties and made no bones about their bias. In some ways it would be good to go back to that and drop the pretense of objective reporting.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    I really just would like an answer to the question. I assume Dennis posted this because he felt this was contrary to conventional wisdom. I don't know the difference between "dark" campaign money and Super Pac money. That's all I want to know. Hope I can get an answer.

  • It’s a fair question, Jimmy. I made too many assumptions when I made this post about a complicated subject, including presuming that people would know what “dark money” is. The Sunlight Foundation defines “dark money” as “political spending by organizations that don't disclose their donors” and are not required to.

    That’s different than Super PACs, which Sunlight defines: “Technically known as independent expenditure-only committees, Super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis -- the Super PAC's choice -- as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates.”

    In addition to your link, here you can find OpenSecrets.Org listing, which it summarizes: “As of June 26, 2012, 633 groups organized as Super PACs have reported total receipts of $240,214,583 and total independent expenditures of $133,347,915 in the 2012 cycle.”

    But now it becomes more complex. While Super PACs must report their donors, certain non-profits and charitable groups—so-called 501c organizations—do not. As the Campaign Legal Center explains:

    “… tax law does not require certain groups organized under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code to publicly disclose their donors—even if the group engages in explicit election advocacy. This aspect of the tax law is not new; it has just become more salient in light of the surge in spending by corporations and outside groups in the 2010 election cycle.” You can read more of these details on the center’s posting here.

    So actually, I was only talking about “dark money,” that can come from outfits like Planned Parenthood, AFSCME, and all the others, of both political persuasions. Obviously, it can cut both ways.

    Here’s what Sunlight said about the mid-term elections in Illinois:

    “The Illinois Senate race between Democratic candidate Alexander Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk has attracted the most dark money so far in the mid-term elections, with $6.8 million coming from sources that haven't disclosed their contributors. Giannoulias, hoping to hold onto the seat that was once occupied by President Barack Obama, has been the target of more dark money attacks than any other candidate--more than $4.4 million.”

    Yes, Super PAC money is flowing into campaigns like mad (and it won’t end soon, in light of the Supreme Court’s affirmation of its earlier ruling that made all this possible). You legitimately can argue that Republicans will come out ahead of in milking cash cows, although President Obama at one point was crowing how he could raise $1 billion.

    So, if both sides win and lose from the complex campaign finance law that the Supreme Court contributed to with its Citizens United decision, why did I post it in the first place?

    Well, here’s one reason why: Because of stories like this in Salon: “Dark money middlemen: Citizens United banned campaign coordination with super PACs, but the GOP may have found a way around.” Well, it would be more correct to say that everyone has found a way around.

    As I was watching the TV reporting of yesterday’s Supreme Court ratification of Citizens United, I was astounded to hear reporters and news readers who should know better say that the decision was about “corporations,” as if labor unions, advocacy groups (of both the right and the left), charities, etc. were not also involved in the issue. Sometimes, as a reporter—I was for the Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News—it is very frustrating to see news shaded, for either side. I guess that’s why I posted.

    Sorry for the length, Jimmy, but you were absolutely right to ask for a clarification.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Tremendous. Thank you very much for filling me in on this, I've learned a lot.

  • So dark money has absoloutely nothing to do with the dark matter in the universe? What a relief.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Yes, but plenty to do with dark thoughts.

Leave a comment

  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Advertisement:
  • Visit my new website

    I'm a freelance writer, editor and author. I can help you with a wide variety of projects. Check out my new website at

  • Meet The Blogger

    Dennis Byrne

    Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.

  • Subscribe to The Barbershop

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Dennis Byrne’s Facebook Fan Page

  • Categories

  • Like me on Facebook

  • Our National Debt

  • Twitter

  • Tags

  • Recent Comments

  • /Users/dennisby/Desktop/trailer.mp4
  • Advertisement: