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August 03, 2016

Watchdog Nonprofit Unveils Database to Trace ‘Dark Money’

The Center for Public Integrity launched a new online tool Tuesday aimed at shedding light on the flow of “dark money” through nonprofits and into political campaigns. Users of the center’s Nonprofit Network can sift through 850,000 tax filings from some 250,000 organizations that were recently made available in digital form by the Internal Revenue Service.

Registered nonprofits are not required to disclose donors, giving rise to the use of 501(c)(4) “social welfare” groups as conduits for hundreds of millions of dollars in political spending. But they must report grants to other tax-exempt organizations, and that data is collated in the Nonprofit Network so users can uncover some funding sources for so-called dark-money groups.

The center, a nonprofit news outlet that investigates corruption and campaign finance, developed the database for in-house use but then “decided it was too valuable and too important not to share with the world,” said John Dunbar, its deputy executive editor.