Analysis Shows ‘Unprecedented Surge’ of Dark Money Ahead of 2024 Elections

“Contributions from dark money groups and shell companies are outpacing all prior elections and may even surpass the roughly $660 million in contributions from unknown sources that flooded 2020 elections.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 314-2024 by Common Dreams

The Rolling Rebellion For Real Democracy at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, 2014. Photo:Joe Brusky/flickr/CC

Dark money groups are spending at record levels in their efforts to influence the outcome of the 2024 U.S. elections, an analysis published Wednesday by OpenSecrets revealed.

According to the watchdog, the “unprecedented surge” in spending by dark money groups—which, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling don’t have to disclose their donors—topped $162 million in 2023, “surpassing the level of dark contributions seen at the same point in any prior election cycle.”

“So far this election cycle, contributions from dark money groups and shell companies are outpacing all prior elections and may even surpass the roughly $660 million in contributions from unknown sources that flooded 2020 elections—a cycle that attracted over $1 billion in total dark money,” the group said.

According to OpenSecrets’ analysis, super PACs and other dark money groups supporting Democrats have spent $85 million during this election cycle, while contributions backing Republicans have totaled $74 million so far. If the trend holds, this will be the fourth consecutive election cycle in which Democrats enjoyed a dark money advantage.

Americans for Prosperity Action, a right-wing hybrid PAC led by billionaire Charles Koch, has reported around $25 million in contributions so far this election cycle—far more than any other dark money group. Senate Majority PAC, which supports Democrats, has spent over $16.7 million, while the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund is in third place with more than $15.8 million in donations.

In an effort to tackle dark money’s corrupting influence, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) last month introduced legislation aimed at closing a loophole that lets wealthy individuals make tax-free asset donations to dark money groups.

Dark money is back in the headlines amid scrutiny over the right-wing billionaires behind the upcoming No Labels third-party “unity” ticket and $100 million blitz unleashed by the American Israel Political Action Committee against Democrats who criticize Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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