Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Anonymous Donors Fueling Independent Campaign Spending Anonymous Donors Fueling Independent Campaign Spending

This ad will end in seconds
Close X

Want access to this content? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation


Anonymous Donors Fueling Independent Campaign Spending

When the Supreme Court issued its Citizens United ruling, it said that transparency and disclosure of campaign expenditures would be weapons against the corrupting influence of money. Our colleague John Aloysius Farrell reports (for members) on the state of transparency in the post-Citizens United world:

How's that working out in 2012? Not so well, it appears. The lion's share of advertising for the fall election--some 90 percent of all the ads being run, independent of the two political parties, according to a Washington Post survey--has been paid for by partisan operations that cloak their donors. In part due to shambolic performances by Congress, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Federal Election Commission, the "moneyed interests" are defying attempts to hold them accountable. ...

To maintain anonymity, big donors can fund "independent expenditures" (another legal term of art) by groups operating under section 501(c) of the tax code. Although such front groups face limits on what portion of their budget can be spent on candidates, they operate with a high degree of confidence that the IRS won't shut them down. ...

Some of the biggest 501(c) groups are affiliated with super PACs, to whom they transfer gobs of money, effectively laundering campaign cash. ...

The super PACs received all the attention in the GOP presidential primaries, but 501(c) groups are replacing them as the vehicle of choice for big "moneyed interests" in the general election.

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories


Rick, Executive Director for Policy

Concise coverage of everything I wish I had hours to read about."

Chuck, Graduate Student

The day's action in one quick read."

Stacy, Director of Communications

I find them informative and appreciate the daily news updates and enjoy the humor as well."

Richard, VP of Government Affairs

Chock full of usable information on today's issues. "

Michael, Executive Director

Sign up form for the newsletter