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Nonprofits, Not Super PACs, Are the Real Big Spenders Nonprofits, Not Super PACs, Are the Real Big Spenders

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Blogs / Influence

Nonprofits, Not Super PACs, Are the Real Big Spenders

June 18, 2012
money.jpgNonprofits outspent Super PACs during the 2010 election cycle while keeping contributor  information secret. That's according to a joint investigation from the Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Responsive Politics, which found that 501(c)4 groups outspent Super PACs on political expenditures 3-to-2 during the 2010 cycle.

That may come as a surprise to those who've been blasting Super PACs as a dangerous, new element in American politics. Super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, have to publicly disclose the name of their contributors. Not so with nonprofits, which collectively spent $84 million from undisclosed funders on political activities, according to the report.

All in all, nonprofits spent $94.8 million in the 2010 cycle, compared to $65.3 million by Super PACs. Most of the nonprofit money -- $78 million of it -- came from conservative "social welfare" groups, as opposed to $16 million from liberal ones, the report shows.

Another thing to consider: nonprofits contribute to Super PACs, too. So even if a Super PAC makes it public where it's getting money from, the public may never know the real source of all that loot.

From the story:

Nonprofit groups are not only able to hide their contributors; they are also able to avoid reporting their expenditures. Take, for instance, Crossroads GPS.

According to a source who tracks political advertising buys, since the start of 2011, Crossroads GPS has spent more than $44 million on ads critical of President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats such as Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Jon Tester of Montana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Bill Nelson of Florida, who all face contentious re-election fights.

But because the bulk of the ads did not air within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election, the group hasn't been required to report the spending to the FEC. Reports Crossroads GPS has filed with the FEC this election cycle say it has spent just over $200,000.

(Photo: Creative Commons/401K 2012)

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