“Social welfare” organizations, or “Dark money” groups?

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It’s not the SuperPACs that are buying our elections, so-called “social welfare” organizations are. According to IRS law – 501c4 and 501c6 groups – what are known as social welfare organizations or trade associations – are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money in our elections – and not disclose a single donor – just as long as they don’t explicitly call for the election or defeat of a particular politician.

And since the super-rich who are trying to buy Republican politicians would rather stay in the shadows, they’re increasingly using these “dark money” groups rather than SuperPACs – which do have to disclose their donors – to influence our elections.

According to a new report by Demos and the U.S. PIRG – 50% of all outside spending this presidential race has come from these “dark money” groups. The top 5 “dark money” groups more than $50 million bucks on television adds so far this election, yet Americans only know where 1% of that money actually came from. For all we know, Chinese business tycoons, Saudi princes, or foreign dictators could be funneling money into our elections to help Republicans win. This is the insanity that the Supreme Court gave us in its Citizens United decision.

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When Eric Holder eventually steps down as Attorney General, he will leave behind a complicated legacy, some of it tragic, like his decision not to prosecute Wall Street after the financial crisis, and his all-out war on whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.

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