Published from OpenSecrets.org
OUR MISSION is to produce and disseminate peerless data and analysis on money in politics to inform and engage Americans, champion transparency, and expose disproportionate or undue influence on public policy.
Dark Money refers to political spending meant to influence the decision of a voter, where the donor is not disclosed and the source of the money is unknown. Depending upon the circumstances, Dark Money can refer to funds spent by a political nonprofit or a super PAC. Here’s how:
- Political nonprofits are under no legal obligation to disclose their donors. When they choose not to, they are considered Dark Money groups.
- Super PACs can also be considered Dark Money groups in certain situations. While these organizations are legally required to disclose their donors, they can accept unlimited contributions from political non-profits and “shell” corporations who may not have disclosed their donors, in these cases they are considered Dark Money groups.
Dark Money groups account for staggering gaps in understanding exactly how each funding dollar is being spent during political elections. These gaps are becoming wider with every election cycle. Political organizations working to influence the 2016 elections outside party or official campaign structures spent more than $15 million in 2015, and only reported about $5 million of that to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). For comparison, that $5 million alone is more than ten times more than what had been reported at this point in 2011, before the last presidential election cycle.
Infographic: See how Dark Money flows between nonprofits, click on the graphic below:
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