NY Times reports Democrats benefitted more from dark money in 2020

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Democrats, not Republicans, took home the most “dark money” during the 2020 federal election cycle, a report from the New York Times revealed Saturday.

According to an extensive investigation by the Times’ Kenneth P. Vogel and Shane Goldmacher, the 15 dark money organizations that most closely align with Democrats spent about $1.5 billion on political campaigns compared to $900 million from the top 15 conservative-aligned dark money organizations.

In U.S. political parlance, the term “dark money” is used to describe political contributions made by nonprofit organizations who, because of federal law, do not have to disclose the source of their income. These organizations have become a primary tool corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals use to secretly funnel immense amounts of money to policymakers and political campaigns.

Despite the murky name, dark money contributions are perfectly legal, but people from both the right and left have expressed concern over what dark money has done to the U.S. political system.

OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan research group that tracks political spending in the U.S., offers a more robust explanation of how dark money influences political activity, but the core concern is that dark money has created a system whereby the wealthy can donate extreme sums of cash to and hold powerful sway over policymakers without the public ever being made aware.

“This lack of accountability and transparency has helped disguise the source of millions of dollars in political spending,” the OpenSecrets article reads. “Shell companies make major contributions to super PACs each election cycle, leaving voters in the dark while the recipient often knows the donor’s true identity.”

At present, the money in question is almost exclusively from the United States.

“Only American citizens (and immigrants with green cards) can contribute to federal politics, but the American divisions of foreign companies can form political action committees (PACs) and collect contributions from their American employees,” OpenSecrets explains.

According to research conducted by OpenSecrets, during 2020 foreign-connected contributions totaled less than $25 million, $18 million originating from Europe, which was a pittance compared to domestic spending.

For years, the Left and mainstream media have treated dark money as a predominantly Republican mechanism. Earlier this month, NBC News lamented a million-dollar ad campaign that was funded by a Conservative nonprofit and meant to pressure Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) into voting to retain Senate filibuster rules.

But the Times report reveals that Democrats have felt little reservation about engaging is the same tactics.  

Vogel and Goldmacher accredit the 2020 uptick in Democratic dark money to leftists’ desire to defeat then-President Donald Trump. The authors attribute the comparatively slower action on the Republican side to several factors, including a split among powerful donors on the Trump question and conservative nonprofits choosing to spend dark money fighting liberal policies in court rather than on electoral matters.

The Times’ findings carry particular weight at present.  Not only are midterm elections forthcoming, but it’s been recently alleged that dark money entities are seeking to influence Justice Stephen Breyer’s replacement on the Supreme Court.  

“Even before Breyer announced his retirement this week, groups funded by secret donors from both sides of the aisle had already started to weigh in on the impending vacancy,” OpenSecrets’ Anna Massoglia wrote Thursday.

Thus far in 2022, according to new data from OpenSource, 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans make up the top 20 recipients of PAC money.