This Week in Dark Money: August 24, 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


“He’s not going to get grassroots support from individuals; I don’t think he’ll get organized support by the party or 501(c)(4)s and I don’t know how you survive without that kind of support.”
—Republican operative Bradley Blakeman, expressing skepticism about Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) chances at unseating Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill after his comment that victims of “legitimate rape” aren’t likely to become pregnant. Groups including Karl Rove’s dark-money Crossroads GPS have pulled their ads from the race (for now).



The liberal nonprofit Patriot Majority USA dropped $500,000 on an ad campaign targeting Charles and David Koch for attempting to “buy this year’s elections and advance their agenda.” But two can play the dark-money game: The web of groups collectively referred to as Patriot Majority has disclosed its mostly union and Democratic bigwig donors since 2006, but Patriot Majority USA doesn’t plan to.


7 percent: The amount of television stations’ revenues that may come from political ads, thanks to super PACs and nonprofit groups, according to Moody’s. TV stations are required to give discounted rates to campaigns, but those rules don’t apply for outside spending groups. “It’s like Christmas in September for broadcasters. And October,” David Keating, head of the pro-Citizens United group Center for Competitive Politics, told Politico.


Between 2011 and this July, conservative super PACs have spent $137.1 million, four times the $33.1 million spent by their liberal counterparts. The Center for Responsive Politics charted this year’s numbers:


• Super PAC Cash Still Favors GOP: Conservative super PACs continue to dominate their liberal rivals in the latest round of fundraising.
• GOP Money Machine Choking Off Support For Rep. Todd Akin: Both Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the GOP’s main Senate committee are ending ad support for Akin.
• Lefty Dark-Money Group Drops $500K Attacking The Koch Brothers: Patriot Majority, a liberal nonprofit group, says its new ads are the opening shots of a sustained anti-Koch campaign.


• An exhaustive account of how nonprofits claiming to be social welfare groups are pouring millions of dollars into the 2012 election. ProPublica (embedded on
• No one seems to be taking the rule banning campaigns from coordinating with outside spending groups too seriously. Politico
• While his brothers were off playing the dark-money game, Bill Koch built himself a private Old West town. Denver Post

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  • Brian McMahon

    gee we sure could have put that 2 trillion dollars to better use than telling lies to the american people on both sides

  • Katherine

    My thoughts exactly. The amount of money spent is obscene plain and simple.

  • JonThomas

    At least the money is back in circulation.

  • JonThomas

    As far as the “television station’s revenues,” and…“It’s like Christmas in September for broadcasters. And October…” I may not be an expert, but there is a set amount of time for commercials in any time constrained (1/2 hour, 1 hour…etc long) show. Whether those time spaces are used for selling bathroom tissue or political ads, the revenue is probably quite similar.

    In this respect I don’t see the big deal.

    However, when the ads are allowed to broadcast by unnamed groups, not held to standards of fact checking, or any of the myriads of problems involved with these dark money groups…then this society will suffer under the thought shaping abilities of only those whose resources allow for “free-speech.”

  • Eric Anderson

    Check your addition. We’re talking billions, not trillions. That’s the kind of money people in Washington would call “pencil dust on the ledger.” What’s sad is how such a relatively small amount can lead to such huge political favors in return — bailouts, tax breaks, aborted prosecutions of fraudulent activity, regulatory laxness. It’s sick.