What Is Dark Money And How Does It Influence Elections?

The 2016 presidential race is already awash in money on a historic scale More than ever, candidates are running on large, undisclosed donations, known as “dark money”

So, what is dark money, and how does it influence elections? Well, any election funding that comes from groups who don’t need to disclose their donors is described as “dark money” Shady donor groups generally come in two forms: politically active nonprofits, like social welfare and trade organizations, or Limited Liability Corporations, also knowns as LLCs Like SuperPacs, dark money groups can funnel an unlimited amount of money to any political cause or candidate However, because of their position in the federal tax code, they are not required to publicly disclose the source of that money This particular tax exemption has existed for more than a century, and only applies to organizations that “further the common good and general welfare of the community

” The law was later amended to include political causes, however these organizations still had to devote at least half of their budget to actual social welfare With this somewhat unclear language, political groups are able to get away with mass amounts of unregulated and unreported campaign spending, as long as they are registered as a 501(c)(4) Before 2010, dark money groups could not legally spend donor money on “advocacy communications”, like TV ads promoting a political candidate or cause But that all changed with the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which not only removed the cap on political donations, but freed up corporations and nonprofits to funnel money into political communication That year, the IRS saw a sharp increase in 501(c)(4) applications and campaign contributions from nonprofits, overwhelming their ability to effectively regulate them

The IRS has since attempted to rewrite the tax code to prevent further abuses; however, their efforts have been repeatedly blocked by the Republican-led senate This is likely why the 2012 presidential election saw more dark money expenditures than any US election in history In 2012, political nonprofits, like the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, spent more than $300 million dollars in total to boost their preferred candidate By comparison, less than $70 million dollars came from dark money groups in the 2008 election And experts predict that the 2016 cycle will see more undisclosed funding than ever before

In fact, as of November 2015, roughly $5 million dark money dollars had already been spent, which is more than 10 times the amount spent at that point during the 2012 cycle Dark money spending is multiplying and thriving to benefit candidates on both ends of the political spectrum That said, in 2012, conservative dark money groups spent about eight times more than their liberal counterparts And republican politicians have since rallied against regulations on campaign spending, particularly from nonprofits Whether these groups will get a return on their investment in the 2016 election is yet to be seen

To learn more about the other side of unlimited election funding, you can watch this video up top about Super PACs And if you want to know how morals influence your political beliefs check out this video from our friends at Fig 1 Thanks for watching TestTube News make sure to like and subscribe for new videos everyday

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