How Dark Money Groups Can Get Away With Breaking the Law


Mike Ludwig | Truthout | December 17, 2015

If you’ve been watching TV in Iowa this primary season, chances are you’ve seen an ad featuring Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio waxing poetic about the “American dream.” The ad plugs a list of “new ideas” such as “throwing out the tax code” that mirror Rubio’s campaign platform – but his campaign has nothing to do with the ad, at least not on paper.

The group behind the ad, Conservative Solutions Project, has been accused of violating the tax code by filing as a nonprofit charity that appears to be working for the benefit of only one person: Rubio. But that hasn’t stopped the group from injecting millions of dollars into the campaign without publicly disclosing where that money came from. So far, the group raised and spent more money than both Rubio’s official campaign and a super PAC dedicated to electing him, leaving voters with no idea as to who is paying top dollar for pro-Rubio ads.

Rubio’s campaign is not alone. “Dark money” has exploded into the political scene since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision unleashed a flood of corporate cash into the nation’s elections. Groups that don’t disclose their donors spent $300 million in the 2012 elections and at least $174 million in the 2014 midterms, when they were responsible for 38 percent of all political ads bought by outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).

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