The amount spent on political activity in six states by nonprofit "social welfare" groups that are not required to disclose donors increased from $600,000 in 2006 to $22 million in 2014, the Associated Press writes, citing a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
he report looked at political spending in statewide elections in California, Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, Maine, and Massachusetts in 2006, 2010, and 2014. Researchers found that only 29 cents of every $1 of independent political expenditures in those races could be tracked easily to its original individual donor due to the surge in "dark money" from nonprofits and what the report calls "gray money" that is filtered through multiple super PACs. Spending of the latter type increased from $42 million to $129 million during the period studied.
Dark money has been on the rise in federal and state elections since the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling,which ended restrictions on how much corporations, unions, and interest groups could spend on political communications that do not explicitly endorse or oppose political candidates. Such entities can shield their political spending by giving to 501(c)(4) social-welfare nonprofits.