Looking for tips to follow the money in elections from super PACs and dark money groups?
As you know, candidates aren’t the only ones spending money in elections. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, there has been a surge of spending by super PACs (which are legally required to disclose their donors) and dark money groups (which generally keep the public in the dark about their funding sources).
Both super PACs and dark money groups can accept contributions of unlimited size from wealthy Americans, labor unions, corporations, and certain types of nonprofits, including 501(c)(6) trade associations and 501(c)(4) “social welfare” nonprofits, allowing these donors to exert an outsized influence on politics.
In this webinar, Beckel outlines several invaluable resources for monitoring super PACs and dark money groups, including:
- “FEC Notify” alerts from the Federal Election Commission for real-time alerts that new campaign finance filings have been submitted by any candidate, party committee, PAC, leadership PAC, or super PAC
- Key questions to ask if an outside group appears to be not truly independent of the candidate it is supporting
- Key questions to ask about mysterious LLCs that give money to super PACs
- OpenSecrets.org’s Outside Spending Database
- Resources of obtaining and searching 990 filings submitted by nonprofits to the IRS
- LM-2 filings submitted by labor unions to the Department of Labor
- Filings voluntarily released by companies about their political giving
- The Center for Political Accountability’s TrackYourCompany.org database of information from companies’ voluntary corporate filings
- LD-203 filings submitted to Congress by federal lobbyists about their political giving
- TV ad buy data in the political files of TV stations on the Federal Communications Commission’s website
- Meta’s political ad database, which includes information about political ads on Facebook and Instagram
- Google’s political ad database, which includes information about political ads on Google and YouTube
- Snap’s political ad database, which includes information about political ads on Snapchat
The business records, labor union records, nonprofit records, and other filings discussed in this presentation can be helpful for investigations into political money — as well as other stories.
As you’ll see, many of the slides in this deck are hyperlinked to the resources that are featured.
If you have specific questions about any of these tools/records, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
Issue: Dark Money & Super PACs