Center for Responsive Politics: Millions in Masked Money Funneled into 2018 Elections

In a report by The Center For Responsive Politics, spending by groups that only partially disclose their donors and by secret money groups dominated the 2018 midterm election cycle. According to federal election records at the time of reporting:

Partially-disclosing groups have already reported $405 million in 2018 election spending…This is the third consecutive election cycle that the portion of outside spending made up by partially-disclosed groups has more than doubled.

These “partially-disclosing” groups have accounted for over 50% of outside spending during the 2018 election cycle, as reported to the Federal Election Commission. At the same time, secret money groups have also funneled money into elections, significantly through ad campaigns. The Center reports:

While partially-disclosing groups have seen the sharpest jump in spending, ‘dark money’ groups that patently reject disclosure altogether have continued to play a substantial role in 2018 elections…A flood of ‘dark money’ donations to groups like super PACs that are required to disclose donors has led to a substantial increase what some have termed “grey money” — spending by partially-disclosing groups which either don’t reveal all of their donors or take money from ‘dark money’ sources.

Spending by “partially-disclosing” groups and secret money groups represent an ongoing crisis due to their undue influence in elections and seeking to overwhelm the will of the people, as these groups continue to pour money into our elections. Numerous groups have called on the FEC to institute federal regulations to curb this crisis, however:

As federal regulators attempt to make progress to increase disclosure about ‘dark money’ spending in elections, the tactics deployed by operatives and donors behind that ‘dark money’ spending are continuing to get more complex at an even more rapid pace — making it hard for federal regulators to keep up…The high levels of partial disclosure suggest that dark money is not disappearing, but rather is being funneled through super PACs and other outside spending groups that give the appearance of disclosing their donors.

The new Congress presents an opportunity to advocate for extensive reforms to help curb the influence of money in politics and return the democratic process to the people. We look forward to supporting the proposed campaign finance reform agenda, which includes challenging Citizens United, getting big money out of politics, and other related legislation to reclaim our democracy.

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