You are likely feeling as overwhelmed as I am by the avalanche of data from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on donor reports. But some journalists are digging deep into what has not been reported, and their findings are fascinating.
Look closely at the series of profiles of the billionaires behind much of the money. Here are just a few: Sheldon Adelson (Newt Gingrich), Foster Friess (Rick Santorum), Julian Robertson, Paul Singer, and Miguel Fernandez (Mitt Romney). Also, see Dave Levinthal of Politico.com on “What super PAC filings left out.” He writes, “About the only thing more notable than the donor information super PACs this week revealed is the information they didn’t.” Because the data only covers the latter half of 2011, “Absent from their heady reports are potentially similar hauls in January, when super PACs played critical roles in determining the outcomes of the four early presidential primary and caucus contests — particularly those in Iowa and South Carolina, when voters culled more than half the candidate field.”
At The New York Times, Nicholas Confessore and Michael Luo admit that “… the full scope of such giving is impossible to ascertain from federal campaign filings,” because “much of the money raised by the leading Republican and Democratic independent groups went into affiliated nonprofit organizations that are more restricted in how they can spend the money but do not have to disclose their donors.”
Over on his blog at Huffington Post, Paul Blumenthal says he wants to know whether the reports to the FEC “list contributions that are not traceable to a human donor or a corporation with an identifiable human in charge.” For example, the super PAC Citizens for Strength and Security just reported its finances and revealed a contribution of $66,944 from Citizens for Strength and Security, a nonprofit organization of the same name that does not disclose its donors. Blumenthal writes: “The Citizens United decision that paved the way for super PACs and allowed nonprofits to make contributions for independent electoral expenditures explicitly called for transparency and disclosure in this new system. This is what such disclosure looks like today.”
The Empire – the American plutocracy – strikes back, my friends, and cash-laden drones, pilotless and directed from some unknown location, are becoming the weapon of choice. What can you do? Join the hunt to find and disarm them. At “The Caucus,” the government and politics blog of The New York Times, they’re asking readers to help locate and identify the plutocrats writing the checks.
Calling all Citizen Sleuths: Bring your bird dog and join the hunt!