This Week in Dark Money: Aug. 31, 2012

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


“This is a nightmare for me.”
—Former Rick Santorum booster Foster Friess, speaking to MoJo’s Tim Murphy at the Republican National Convention in Tampa about the attention heaped on GOP megadonors. “It’s too many things going on. I’ve got like four things to go to. It’s just so frustrating,” he continued. “I’ve had enough speeches!” Friess was just one of several deep-pocketed donors in Tampa. Miriam Adelson, wife of casino magnate Sheldon and a megadonor herself, gave a policy talk. Direct-marketing CEO Frank VanderSloot and his wife met privately with Karl Rove; hedge-fund manager Paul Singer also organized a private meeting with Rove. And David Koch “discussed saving America” with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).



American Bridge 21st Century, the liberal super PAC launched by Media Matters founder David Brock, preempted Thursday night convention speeches by Mitt Romney and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) with a web ad pitting Rubio’s words against Romney. “For almost all of history, almost everyone was poor,” Rubio says. “Only a few people had power and wealth and prosperity.” Then, as the video displays quotes critical of the low tax rate Romney has paid, Rubio continues: “And so the people with all the power, the big corporations, the multi-billonaires, they used their influence to get the rules written to their advantage.”


$450,000: The amount that Florida developer Gary Morse has given to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. Morse owns the Cracker Bay, the unfortunately named yacht Romney bundlers partied on in Tampa. The ship flies the flag of the Cayman Islands, a notorious tax haven that Romney’s not too eager to associate himself with. Other bundlers at the bash included Romney’s national finance chairman Ron Weiser, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and real estate developer Bob Pence, who’s given Restore Our Future $350,000. (Unlike Obama, Romney has not disclosed the names of all his bundlers.)


Here’s more evidence of the influence of dark money in the wake of Citizens United: Spending by outside groups has skyrocketed in the 2012 election, tripling the pace set in 2008. The Center for Responsive Politics has it charted:


• Barack Obama Comes Out in Favor of an anti-Citizens United Amendment on Reddit.
• “Cracker Bay,” Team Romney’s Big-Money Party Yacht: Choose where you party carefully, future presidential nominees.
• GOP Platform Calls for Nuking What’s Left of McCain-Feingold Law: The platform will also oppose passage of new disclosure laws unmasking big donors to dark-money groups.
• Bizarre Super PAC Targets Liberal Icon Raúl Grijalva…and Sheriff Joe: “I know I will make enemies but our country needs an ass-kicking,” says the operative attacking Rep. Grijalva (D-Ariz.).


• Campaign finance reform groups try to shed light on the dark-money dealings at the RNC. Politico
• A look at how “big business is buying the election.” The Nation
• The anti-tax Club for Growth’s dark-money machine’s latest victory: Helping Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to a Senate primary win. Center for Public Integrity
• Rep. Flake is just the latest of several candidates who have won primaries despite being outspent. Politico
• The Sunlight Foundation has a new app for the iPhone and Android to help viewers debunk attack ads. New Scientist

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