Dear friend of OpenSecrets.org,
Did you happen to see this recent episode of the Colbert Report, in which I warn comedian Stephen Colbert about the dangers of undisclosed money in politics?
Then, as if on cue, last week we learned that a political committee organized to aid Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign accepted millions of dollars from companies that appear to exist only on paper.
One of them, NBC News reported, even dissolved weeks after it donated $1 million to this super PAC.
With opaque names like "W Spann LLC" and "F8 LLC," the public is left in the dark about who is really bankrolling these groups — unless the law changes or individuals voluntarily step forward to claim credit, as former Bain Capital executive Ed Conard did once the media scrutinized the W Spann LLC donation.
In the wake of the Citizens United ruling last year, super PACs now raise unlimited sums from corporations and unions. In total, they raised $85 million last year — a hefty sum sure to be surpassed this year as control of both Congress and the White House is at stake.
Furthermore, nonprofits and other groups spent more than $137 million last election cycle on political ads without disclosing any information about their donors. That's fully 45 percent of all the spending by these outside groups, and it's a sum — and proportion — that is likely to grow in 2012.
The Center for Responsive Politics' research, reporting, analysis and expertise has played a critical role in understanding these troubling trends. Hundreds of media outlets rely on the Center's data and staff to explain this changing campaign finance landscape.
Next up, look for our ongoing analysis of outside spending during the 2012 election cycle. And we will continue to advocate for disclosure of secret donors to political ad campaigns and fight for a more transparent and accountable government.
As we say at CRP: Count cash, and make change.
So stay tuned! And thank you for supporting the Center and OpenSecrets.org.
Center for Responsive Politics