A Ton of Dark Money Is Pouring Into Making Awful Campaign Ads

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A new analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project released Thursday shows spending on this year’s political ads, the kind ruining the TV viewing experience of millions of Americans from now until November, is being dominated by outside groups that can accept unlimited donations from corporations and our malevolent wealthy overlords.

According to the analysis, produced with data by Kantar Media/CMAG, the two weeks following Labor Day saw 85 percent more ads being run by outside groups than during the same period in 2014, the last midterm election year. In House races, the share of ads being run by outside groups has almost doubled.


It matters when money comes from outside groups rather than campaigns because super PACs and 501(c)(4) groups can accept unlimited donations from corporations and wealthy individuals, whereas donations to campaign committees are limited to $2,700 per election (meaning you could give $2,700 to a campaign during the primary and then again in the general).

More ads are also being run overall, which Wesleyan attributes partly to the cost of TV advertising being lower this year. But the amount of money spent has also increased 33 percent; in House races, the total cost of ads run in the two weeks measured after Labor Day was 78 percent higher this year than in 2014.


Dark money is also playing as big a role as it did in 2014. Almost half the ad spending in that two-week period came from dark money groups that don’t disclose their donors, or from groups that have donor disclosure but also accept money from dark money groups, ultimately concealing the source of the money, like the Congressional Leadership Fund.

CLF is a Republican super PAC and one of the largest and most influential groups. It’s raised $100 million this cycle, and while it does have to disclose donors, it takes millions from the American Action Network, a dark money group that doesn’t have to disclose donors. The groups have the same executive director, and they describe themselves as “sister” organizations. Cool!

In their most recent tax filing, AAN revealed a $24.6 million donation that came from a single anonymous donor. Even better!!

The Congressional Leadership Fund is currently the subject of a lawsuit brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, but that won’t be resolved until whoever is behind the group has already had their influence on the 2018 midterms.


Cool!!!!!! Everything is fine!!!!