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

It’s not SuperPACs that are buying our elections, it's so-called “social welfare” organizations. 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 in this presidential race have come from these “dark money” groups. The top 5 “dark money” groups have spent more than $50 million on television ads so far in 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.


Grumpy 10 years 43 weeks ago

So... This is what a BLOG is? I'm really disappointed, I had the impression that blogs were supposed to be the NEXT BIG WAVE for public information. This is just sad, and very LAME. What a waste of time, energy, and interest. If this is the BEST you have, it's not enough. Get Over Yourselves...This SUCKS!

bigwill's picture
bigwill 10 years 43 weeks ago

Your tone is offensive sir.maybe if you had a brain you would understand what this blog is about.!

TVcameraman 10 years 43 weeks ago

I agree with bigwill on this. If you did not like the way this particular topic was expressed, maybe, you should have taken the time to express your opinion on it as opposed to just calling it lame.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 43 weeks ago

When I first read this blog subject I was a little taken aback by the apparent slight on the term "social groups" thinking... what are Thom and/or Louis doing here..joining the right-wing propagandists? But these "social groups" are made up of both left-leaning and right-leaning supporters. And it is the very wealthy right-leaning supporters of the right-wing social groups that are outspending the left-leaning groups by quite a lot.

Beware of names or titles of organizations that sound liberal, or progressive, or even Democrat...many of these organizations are front groups for right-wing groups.

501(c)(4) — Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees
501(c)(6) — Business Leagues, Chambers of Commerce, Real Estate Boards, etc.

" 47 individuals gave more than $ 1 million to Super PACs, which accounted for more than half of the amount raised from individuals.
Ninety-four percent of donations came from less than 0.00035% of the population.
Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam have donated $36 million to Super PACs. According to Lioz, this is just 0.15% of their net worth, and middle class individuals would need to give just $113 to contribute the same percentage. That means it would take more than 321,000 middle class individuals giving at that same percentage to donate as much as the Adelsons."

".. though Super PACs have garnered significant attention in the 2012 race, groups that are not required to disclose their information to the FEC may significantly outspend Super PACs. According to estimates collected for the report, these nonprofits are expected to spend up to $900 million on this year's election. Super PACs thus far have raised $312 million for this election."


"In terms of party allegiance, conservative "social welfare" groups outspent liberal groups $78 million to $16 million, nearly 5-to-1, according to the analysis."

"Three of these Republican-leaning C4 organizations made up for the bulk of the campaign money spent, including Crossroads GPS, which is run by former Bush administration operative Karl Rove. Crossroads GPS spent $17 million alone in the 2010 midterm election cycle where there weren't presidential candidates on the ballot."

"...Crossroads GPS emphasized that they were a grassroots organization with language that made them look like a "social welfare" advocacy group that hadn't spent huge sums on Republican-based political attack ads and were gearing up for the 2012 elections with more undisclosed money for more attack ads. Yet, the IRS rules strictly say that a C4 organization can be involved in "some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity." Is the public really supposed to believe that Mr. Rove and his associates do not plan to spend the rest of this year, as they did in the election of 2010, running political advertisements as their "primary" activity?"


Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 43 weeks ago

"For all we know, Chinese business tycoons, Saudi princes, or foreign dictators could be funneling money into our elections to help Republicans win."

...or Peruvian counterfeiters!


Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 43 weeks ago

The uber-rich..ie: those who have over $33 million...shelter their money in offshore tax-avoidance havens. About 100,000 wealthy US citizens and even many of those who aren't quite as wealthy...who have anywhere from $21 trillion to $32 trillion stashed away in those overseas banks hiding money from the IRS. The IRS loses about $100 billion in taxes every year because of these people. And that $21 trillion to $32 trillion is just deposits in offshore bank accounts...that doesn't even include the hidden assets in other offshore investments. But did you know that wealthy people in other countries also us the US banking system to hide their money from their government's tax system?

And while corporations refuse to pay their fair share of taxes, other corporations are going around trying to fleece people out of what little money they have left.

There is one corporation that buys old debt, and much of that is way beyond the 7 year SOL, at 3 cents on the dollar and pesters the heck out of people by robo-calling and then by making all kinds of threats and pumping you for personal information (so I hear-tell...I have never actually answered any of these calls but have learned about them on the internet).

I have never defaulted on a loan or payment to anyone and they obviously have a wrong number...and I won't confirm or deny who I am..whether or not they have called the wrong number...nor will I even listen to anything they have to say..nor give them any information at all....it is just not their business and many scam operations try to squeeze out any little bit of information about you that they can.

I am not a legal professional by any means and I am not giving you legal advise but...Give them nothing...nada..unless you ask them to not call anymore otherwise you will report them for harassment...in fact, if you are pestered by these people...you might want to think about getting a new number, unlisted, id-blocking, and get a phone that displays the telephone number of the incoming caller..and some also display the name of the caller. But if you get a new number...remember that the new number was probably used by someone else before you got it and this might be the reason why you are getting strange calls from these people...they think you are that someone else. But, don't help these corporate maggots out...don't even confirm or deny anything just hang up or not answer at all. In fact, you would be the least committal in not even answering or have dialog with them....there is no law that says you have to be home to answer your calls.

And another reason why it is a good idea to have id-blocking...criminals often call to see if anyone is home before they try to break in. If you answer...they know you are at home...if you never answer...they never really know and if they try to break in....you will be there to call the police.

Frys sells a small device that costs $19.95 made by AT&T that you can hook up between your telephone line and the phone and it saves any attempted calls (the phone numbers and names of the caller) you get. Before the device works you have to call the phone company and ask for that service for which they will charge you a small extra amount each month....it is well worth it....and it has been such a relief.

When someone calls, before picking up, just look at the device and verify that it is from someone you know. Have a list of all phone numbers of people you want to talk to..and just don't answer the phone from someone you don't know. Don't worry..no one is ever going to call you and tell you you have won a million dollars unless it is a scam. It just doesn't happen. And if you really did win they would not stop at just a phone call to notify you.

And never answer from any caller called "Portfolio Recovery"....do a search on the internet to verify who they are and just how they operate....and do a reverse telephone number lookup on that number and you will see that this organization calls from area codes all around the nation and many people are complaining about being harassed by these people. Since the device records something like up to 50 numbers...you can always call someone back later if you realize that you really did want to talk to them.

We were taught to be nice to people...to answer the phone politely...to be civil. But, the crooks and criminals who would empty your bank account count on you being polite and civil...they count on you being gullible. If you want to protect yourself...trust no one...and stop being so nice. Don't say "please" or "I'm sorrry but..." just don't say anything and just hang up on those sorry scamsters. If they ask "is this so and so?" Don't confirm it...instead ask "Who are you or who's calling?" Try to confirm their identity before you confirm yours. If it is a valid call then you are ok...if it is not...and you confirmed that you are, in fact, so-and-so then you have just given the enemy..the potential criminal after your money...a piece of information that could be used against you. The Social Engineers are alive and well and pump you for the tiniest bits of information that they can eventually put together to screw you over.

mblady 10 years 43 weeks ago

This is something few people will talk about--corruption in "social welfare" or non-profit organizations.

Sorry, but most "non-profits" are corrupt and operate like Walmart. I've worked for non-profits that hired then fired employees within short periods of time, in order to prevent having to provide the benefits they claimed publicly to provide their employees, put their employees in unsafe circumstances, but more important, only provided good public services to make their organization look good (and gather more funding).

In other words, most "non-profits" are in the business of making money. They contribute a small amount of to a community and then it seems that anything else they do--no matter how wrong--is excused once they've done some good.

Yet this is logic many Americans are comfortable with. A wealthy elite contributes by donating money to a non-profit (as long as that organization isn't creating any real social change) then publicizes it. "See? I'm rich but I give back to your community!" So all the things the elite do to harm our society, paying employees substandard wages, not providing benefits to employees and their families, overworking their employees, etc., don't matter. A CEO may cause thousands of people to become homeless by shutting down some offices and plants and laying off employees but then he turns around and donates money to a homeless shelter and people say, "He's not a bad guy. He's contributing to our society."

If a man beat his wife then donated money to a battered women's shelter, would that make it all okay? If a serial killer murdered 30 people then donated money to a crime victim support group does that negate his actions as a murderer?

Apparently so.

Yes, we need homeless shelters and food shelves, and there may be some people who are helped in a small way by those organizations. However, many people are turned away and not given the help they need. Many food shelves/shelters serve the poor stale or processed and unhealthy food. Is that a good thing? Yes, it's nice if a homeless person can crash at a shelter during a storm for a night but if the next night he is turned away he is still homeless. And homeless shelters, food shelves, etc., get more funding when they turn people away. It increases their numbers. They can say, "We helped 1000 people last year," because every night allow new homeless people to stay and kick out their previous tenants. The food shelf limits its participants to once per month. Why? Because that increases the chances of new people getting food from the food shelf and, therefore, increases their numbers.

Okay, maybe I'll write a blog on this here to explain further what I mean.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 43 weeks ago

mblady...Thank you for providing some insight into this matter. We need more people who have worked and experienced the so-called "non-profit" organizations. Just like there are greedy people leaching off of medicare (and I'm not talking about the people ON medicare..I'm talking about the so-called providers who screw us all..the doctors and assistants who bill the government for goods and services not actually rendered or charging way more than they should), there are greedy maggots who create so-called "non-profit" organizations who have every intention of "pretending to do good" but are really doing it to make lots of money. I'm sure that not all "non-profits" are like that...at least I hope not. There are schemers and dreamers and they will do anything they can for a buck...lots of bucks.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 43 weeks ago

Is the Non-Profit World Teeming With Fraud?
Stephen J. Dubner

"According to a Times report by Stephanie Strom, fraud and embezzlement in the non-profit sector account for a loss of $40 billion a year, or roughly 13 percent of philanthropic giving."


" ..an estimated $40-50 billion per year is lost to fraud in non-profits and scandal is found in nearly 20% of philanthropic organizations, according to the New York Times."

"Nonprofit organizations and faith-based houses of worship make the headlines almost weekly about theft of funds, embezzlement, corruption, fraud, health/safety violations and misconduct."


One of many ways non-profits commit fraud, at this web site, I show here because it was mentioned: " I've worked for non-profits that hired then fired employees within short periods of time..."

..."Payroll and employee expense reporting schemes
• Ghost employees – whereby either terminated employees are left on the payroll system, or fake employees are set up in payroll. Payroll checks are issued for nonexistent employees and the checks are cashed by the perpetrator."


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