Which Party Did More Secret Spending This Election Season?
In an election year when liberal billionaires topped the list for most individual Super PAC spending—notably, billionaire-turned-climate-change-activist Tom Steyer alone gave more than $73 million this year—there's one (admittedly teensy by comparison) category where Republicans are still outspending Democrats: dark money.
These funds are spent by politically active groups that don't disclose their donors, so they are basically a good place to spend political capital for people who don't want to actually expend political capital if their views are unfavorable to the broader public.
So, hypothetically, if Chick-fil-A's leaders wanted to hide their deeply felt opposition to gay marriage because they worried it would sink their chicken biscuit sales among more liberal consumers, they could quietly give a bunch of money to a political action group that opposes it without ever having the donation traced back.
The Sunlight Foundation reports that since June of this year, "overall, Republican-leaning dark money groups have spent $94.6 million, while Democratic-leaning groups have spent $28.4 million."
So, where has all that money gone?
Mostly to pay for television ads in states with tight Senate races, such as Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, and North Carolina. While this money has only covered a fraction of the larger campaign costs, if control of the Democrat-led Senate changes hands after Election Day, dark money may get a little more scrutiny in the future.