This Week in Dark Money – June 8, 2012

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We’re proud to collaborate with Mother Jones in sharing insightful journalism related to money and politics. We’ll be posting this weekly roundup every Friday. Share your thoughts about these must-read stories and always feel free to suggest your own in the comments section.

A quick look at the week that was in the world of political dark money


smart chart from MoJo

Sources: Center for Responsive Politics, National Institute for Money in State Politics


“Let’s face it, politics in this country is coin-operated.”
— Gateway computer founder Ted Waitt, who recently launched the centrist super PAC icPurple.


Victorious Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker outspent Democratic rival Tom Barrett by a nearly 8-to-1 margin in Tuesday’s recall election, which cost a record-setting $63.5 million (also see our breakdown of the numbers):

Walker's Cash Advantage


66.8 percent: The portion of the conservative dark-money group American Action Network’s budget spent on political activity from July 2009 through June 2011. By law, 501(c)(4) groups like AAN are prohibited from making campaign activity their primary focus. “Any group spending over 65 percent of its funds on political activities can hardly argue influencing elections is not its primary purpose,” says Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which is calling for an investigation. “Significant financial penalties might prod AAN to learn the math.”


As iWatch News’ Michael Beckel reports, California’s first-ever “jungle primaries” (in which the top two primary vote-getters will appear on the November ballot, regardless of party) have led to super-PAC-fueled feuds. In the race for the state’s 26th Congressional district, one of the costliest House races to date, four outside spending groups supporting Democrat Julie Brownley outraised independent challenger Linda Parks by a 20-to-1 margin to secure Brownley a general election race against Republican Tony Strickland. House Majority PAC, which spent more than $700,000 supporting Brownley and attacking Parks, aired this feel-good ad promoting Brownley:



Most of Obama’s 2008 Bundlers Are AWOL: More than 70 percent of the president’s biggest past fundraisers have yet to pitch in. Yet that may not be a problem.
Four Reasons Why the Left Lost Wisconsin: And one reason why Tuesday wasn’t a total disaster for Democrats.
“Our Elections Are Being Poisoned”: Have the dark money, front groups, and corporate cash flooding Scott Walker’s recall corrupted Wisconsin?
Sheldon Adelson Opens Up His Wallet, Vol. MCXVI: The Las Vegas casino owner (and former Newt Gingrich megadonor) cuts his first check to a Romney super PAC.


• Why Democrats shouldn’t fear Mitt Romney’s money. Salon
• A House subcommittee votes to block funding for a FCC initiative to disclose TV political ad spending. Sunlight Foundation
• As big money pours into elections, states’ campaign finance transparency is lacking.
• Ben & Jerry’s cofounder Ben Cohen and anti-Citizens United activists launch campaign to stamp dollar bills with messages like “money is not speech.”

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  • TiredOfLies

    Kevin McLeod has a great song on money in politics, “Follow the Money”.  

  • Edge

    The money in politics is despicable, but far worse  in my opinion is the fact that people are actually swayed by the money spent and attack ads.  They  don’t seem to know or care about how the candidate conducts himself or votes. Therefore,  many people vote against their own best interests because of these flashy campaign, a nessage from their churches or a talk show host.