Press releases

“It’s time to end secret spending in elections,” Issue One CEO Nick Penniman says on Citizens United anniversary

Media Contact

Cory Combs

Director of Media Relations

Ahead of tomorrow’s 13th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, Issue One released the following statement from Founder and CEO Nick Penniman:

“The naivety of the justices in Citizens United has had disastrous consequences. Citizens United unleashed a wild west of campaign spending by corporations and dark money groups. When wealthy special interests are able to dominate political campaigns and the national debate, everyday Americans get shoved aside in the policymaking process. The promise of ‘we, the people’ fades. Across America, Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike are disgusted by the power of money over politics. It’s time to end secret spending in elections and build a more inclusive democracy that works for everyone, not just the affluent few.”


Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision opened the floodgates to unlimited election spending, big-money groups like super PACs and dark money organizations have had an alarming influence. These groups routinely flout anti-corruption laws designed to prevent them from coordinating with candidates. All the while, secretive dark money groups — and even some super PACs — keep their donors hidden.

Issue One has discussed the problems with political dark money on multiple episodes of our “Swamp Stories” podcast, including episode 6 and episode 24.

Our 2021 report, “Outsized Influence,” found that 12 political megadonors — six of whom generally support Democrats and six of whom generally support Republicans — are responsible for $1 of every $13 in federal elections since Citizens United.

In 2020, Issue One reported that dark money spending in our elections had surpassed $1 billion since Citizens United.

Our 2020 report, “Mystery Money,” highlighted how foreign money could potentially flow into super PACs through secretive shell companies.

And in 2018, our groundbreaking report “Dark Money Illuminated” uncovered how just 15 dark money groups in the post-Citizens United era accounted for over 75% of all political dark money spent between January 2010 and December 2016.

Looking for tips to follow the money in elections from super PACs and dark money groups? Issue One Research Director Michael Beckel recently hosted an hour-long webinar sharing resources for monitoring super PACs and dark money groups. 

See Beckel’s slide deck for this presentation here, and see our tipsheet about uncovering donors to secretive dark money groups here.