Journalism in the Public Interest

Two Dark Money Groups Outspending All Super PACs Combined

Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by the Koch brothers, have put almost $60 million so far into ads to influence the presidential race, an analysis of new spending estimates shows.

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Keith Alt

Sep. 1, 2012, 6:23 p.m.

I would like to point out that donations to the Sierra Club are not tax deductible.  They are honest about attempting to influence legislation, and they tell their members upfront that donations aren’t deductible.  If only Karl Rove had that kind of integrity.


Aug. 20, 2012, 3:29 p.m.

Back to COUNTY banking like S&L—local owners-local loans-local wealth recirculated in A county

Americans want their pound of flesh, and rightfully so. We’ve seen our bankers commit every kind of financial crime imaginable. They trade on insider information. They manipulate markets. They rig bets. They fix prices. They sell securities that are designed to fail so that they can bet against them. They launder money for rogue nations. They create too-big-to-fail banks that gamble with impunity knowing that we will bail them out again and again. And they collectively crashed the economy causing 8 million workers to lose their jobs.



Aug. 19, 2012, 11:05 p.m.

Wow—an interesting thing happened today.  I don’t know what happened in the Propublica’s staff room???
They ran an article that came out after midnight Sunday, and closed comments to it by noon Sunday (today)  The article was about 501(c)4
politcal action funds a.k.a. charities.  I particulaly liked a paragraph by the last person to post, about media being another indirect funding/ advertising conduit for political parties and individuals.  The report was slightly more balanced and had a a fair amount of discussion.  Too bad they closed it.

Ginger Rushing

Aug. 18, 2012, 3:28 p.m.

Sorry Peter if I assumed incorrectly.  (Wow my typing was really bad-sorry)  You may be correct as for the media and their coverage of the money train.  I however believe that is is corrupting when it comes from any source other than individuals, who are made puiblic, with limits on spending.  I believe the only way we will return to fair elections is to either go back to limited contributions as I stated or public elections funded from a pool of money that we all chip into and made available to individuals who can qualify under specific guidelines.  Then the only thing it leaves is for them to concentrate on the issues instead of fund raising 50% of the time and being beholden to those who write the biggest check.  These public elections have been working on some local levels in a few communities across the country and I see no reason why they coouldn’t work at every level.  Also if we stay with the system of contributions to individual candidates, those contributions should only come from that candidates home area, be it a state, country or city elections.  We have to find some way to level the playing field so that every politician does not have to come from one economic class.  There are a lot of voices in this country and everyone deserves to be heard and have their interests considered by our lawmakers.  I believe that is much closer to what the original intention was than what we have today.

Peter Eidolon

Aug. 18, 2012, 2:56 p.m.

I never assume (you know what that means) anything like you have in assuming my post is all about your post! It’s not… as it is about media coverage and money! “Money is corrupting only when it’s helping
a cause you don’t believe in”

Peter Eidolon

Aug. 18, 2012, 1:43 p.m.

I never assume (you know what that means) anything like you have in assuming my post is all about your post! It’s not as it is about media coverage and money! “Money is corrupting only when it’s helping
a cause you don’t believe in”

Ginger Rushing

Aug. 17, 2012, 1:31 p.m.

No Peter, that is not correct, your assumption is wrong.  Where in my post does it say that I care which side it comes from.  I do not like any of this big money driving elections and it all leads to corruption.  Please read my post before you assume that you know what I think! 

At the VERY least we have a right to know who these donors are and that those donations not be tax exempt which is possible.

” The IRS guidelines also note: “The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.”,,id=96178,00.html.

The last sentence is the problem.  THis needs to be changed.  If my donation to my political candidate is not deductible, why should these doinations being used for any political reason be?  If charities are going to involve themsleves in political activity as well as Churches, they should lose the tzx expempt status.  I also believe that a fixed % of all tax exempt entities, including churches, must be spent on their stated purpose, or they lose it.  Why should Churches be tax deferred on money that goes to build preachers mega mansions, buy private airplanes, est, etc, etc.  HOw does that money enrich the community or help promote religion?  Tax exempt status was awarded to promote the social good.  Today, that’s a real stretch for many claiming tax exempt status.  Want to make up some of the deficiet? Revisit this subject and start looking where this tax exempt money goes.

Peter Eidolon

Aug. 17, 2012, 11:29 a.m.

Where was the outrage and concern when Peter Lewis (Progressive Ins…nice name) blew about $50 million to try and unseat W with his Pac???
“Money is corrupting only when it’s helping
a cause you don’t believe in”


Aug. 15, 2012, 3:54 p.m.

The word Dark Money was used in proper context here.

Della-Rae, I could not agree more.  Citizens United needs to be overturned.  No good can come of allowing political contributions to be made with no disclosure.  Certainly not from an organization that is masqurading as a non profit.  Maybe by the time November is over, people will realize how very bad this ruling was and do something to fix it.  This has nothing to do with free speech, absolutely nothing.  IF the supreme court believes this is the definition of free speech protected in the constitution, we are all in trouble. The constitution is very clear that the the Free Speech that is protected is speech that an individual may make against the government.  It has nothing to do with telling lies or dispariging other people with impunity.  It simply means the government can’t take action against you for speaking out against any government policy or action.  When did it become that anyone can say anything about anyone else and get away with it regaredless of how vicious or untreu iot may be?  NOW, we have a Supreme Court that thinks it’s Citizen United, giving corporations and groupsthe right to say anything they want no matter how false using money from people they don’t have to identify!!

D Diggler

Aug. 15, 2012, 11:17 a.m.

For the benefit of you jug-heads too impaired to complete the requisite 30 seconds of reseach yourself, ‘dark money’ is not some vaguely racist-sounding label concocted by the author.  Here’s the definition:

Dark money is a term for funds used to pay for an election campaign without proper disclosure before voters go to the polls.

Now, continue the ritualistic poo-flinging…


Aug. 15, 2012, 11:14 a.m.

For the benefit of you jug-heads who are too impaired to do the requisiste 30 seconds of research, ‘dark money’ is not some vaguely racist sounding word concocted by the author.  Here’s the definition:

Dark money is a term for funds used to pay for an election campaign without proper disclosure before voters go to the polls.

the other Mike H

Aug. 15, 2012, 10:22 a.m.

Dear Propublica,
Put on your hip boots and dig on both sides of the agendas

There are some very good opposing views over the last two days.  But a few altruistic comments in my perspective were:

Peter at 6:47 pm
Chis Nugent at 6:48 pm
NER at 10:07 pm

John at 9:57 am
Very well said.  We want hard hitting, very hard hitting and balanced reporting that puts all issues in the public spotlight.  The lesson here is when people want to complain about a particular group the chorus line is the about who are their money people?  Who are their backers with deep pockets?  That is why so many of us are jaded.  If you work in a corporate culture like I do, you understand that the board members and the major investors have some indirect influence on decisions.  So then, why would we not expect similar influence or moral suasion from political activists such as Karl Rove, George Soros, and so-on.  It is naive to think they do not have agendas.  It is also naive to believe they have no hidden agendas.  That my dear colleagues is one of the underpinnings of our modern political system.  We have precious few Mr. Smith’s who go to Washington. And, and when they do our establishment political parties attack them and try to characterize their inexperience as profound stupidity, and therefore they must be nut jobs who should be convicted in the public forum.

Look at what we do.  We call conservatives tea baggers, which is highly derogatory, and in my view a very low class statement not worthy of intellectual integrity.  And on the other hand we call those with very liberal beliefs libtards, which conjectures a variety of ignorant and negative images.  All of it meant to program us and direct us away from facts and intellectual commentary.

I am profoundly against some of the views published by Propublica, but I am also respectful and very appreciative of their integrity to allow us to blog on our opposing views.

Just call me an old fashioned conservative, raised in the woods by wolves, away from class warfare, racial inequality, and economic disparity.  Oh and I am bound to frustrate my very liberal and conservative children who are split 50-50 in their political views.

My point, neither side of the political game is as pure as the driven snow.
Too many players, (in all parties)
Too many secrets, (my favorite from the movie Sneakers)
Too many propagandists, (who don’t have to sweat for a living)

And not enough Mr. Smith’s
I am sure some would ask if I imply that we need the Mr. Smith from the movie the matrix :)

Dear Propublica, as I said before, please, put on your hip boots and dig on both sides of the agendas

Robert Nagle

Aug. 14, 2012, 9:25 p.m.

What percent of the 501(c)(4)s donors come from fossil fuel industries? The article says that c4s don’t need to disclose this. Is there any indirect way to measure this?


Aug. 14, 2012, 4:29 p.m.

I am heart-broken that we have allowed our system, our American Democracy, to become so bastardized that it barely resembles a fair election anymore. No matter what side your on, no matter how much you want your party to win, to uphold your values, your vision….we should all be ashamed.

That we have allowed the desire to win to supersede all common reason. How did this happen? These superpacs, on both sides to get so large and so powerful that they can, with the time and endless amounts of money, buy our votes? That voter suppression is going on under our noses and apparently with our acceptance?

We differ on many things, but do we differ so much that we can’t agree that each of our votes matters in and of itself? That each vote at the very least should be valued for what it says about us individually AND as a nation?

This election can be manipulated and bought. It is happening and no matter who wins, we all lose. When two superpacs can outspend all others now, God knows what it will be like in September; how much money spent on air. ON AIR PEOPLE! Not food for the hungry, or jobs for the jobless, or even to pay taxes; but for negativity, partisanship, division and crowing rights for who will lead our disaster for the next four years when we can do this all again.

Doesn’t anyone else see the insanity of this??

Sharon Elle

Aug. 14, 2012, 12:46 p.m.

The instant “knee-jerk” defensive tactic of changing/diverting the ACTUAL SPECIFIC TOPIC under scrutiny to “the ‘other side’ is doing it too” is at best at a sophmoric argumentative attempt to draw folks into a contest of “well so and so is WORSE…or doing it too!” Which then devolves further away from the actual scrutiny of the original subject (in this case Karl Rove’s & The Koch’s c4’s comparitive funding/spending) so badly needed of our political landscape so filled with misinformation, large monies, and an extreme spectrum of agendas.  Can people NO LONGER have a civil discussion that remains on topic of the article specifically discussing the effects, facts and influences of the particular 501(c4’s) whether pro or con…without immediately resorting to finger pointing and doing so while only rubbing two brain cells together.Why not leave room for an article examining the activities of 501(c4’s) who are essentially the polar opposite in goals and THEN discuss them as well? Resorting to race baiting on the term “Dark money” is not worthy of a 5th grader when it is a WELL-KNOWN term for money whose origin is HIDDEN (as in the dark…whether offshore or in a box underneath someone’s bed). Oh…and to JuliBarbato you just might want to look up words before you use them, as there is a distinctive difference in being a “libertine” as you claim…and a “libertarian.”


Aug. 14, 2012, 11:27 a.m.

No 3rd party need to apply! Both sides would tear into them like a bunch of bankers who see a huge pallet of hundres dollar bills left in the lobby of the bank. When corruption is in charge of all parts of the government from the president to the supreme court, the rule of law is no where to be found, that is why no one responsible for the banking thief & collasp is still in full swing. No pension is safe & the courts have made it clear that the bankers get in line ahead of the people whos money was not supposed to be used to make bets!

It will take actions like Iceland took, no to bail outouts, no to corrupt bankers & politicans & yes to young blood to remove & replace the old guard & their agents!

When the last dollar is took out of the bank accounts of all Americans & is safely off shore, we will then see the jets lining up on the run ways so the crooks can flee. Then we will face off with with what is left of the government. We can either restore our republic or become a marxist 3rd world nation!

Hedley Lamarr

Aug. 14, 2012, 10:05 a.m.

Note the number of times one sees the word Liberal herein? HHMMmmmm… Der Führer’s Große Lüge is STRONG in these trickle-down lapping trolls. Can’t TAKE the truth? Get the hell back to your how wallow @ FOX. These folks fact-check! You think that being a servile, credulous, thirsty little toady puta’s going to make massa love you, cause you’re WHITE? That’s all OVER, profligate fool!


Aug. 14, 2012, 10:04 a.m.

It’s nice that, with every artticle on Republican-oriented PACs, people come out of the woodwork to defend them.  Don’t worry.  The complementary thing happens when the article’s about Democrat-oriented campaign shenanigans.

Apparently, party supporters don’t read the opposite articles.  One could almost be led to believe that these people are…I don’t know, maybe sent here by a central clearinghouse.

The Chinese government has their 50 Cent Party.  GIYUS has their Megaphone software.  Where can we get in on the fake silent majority action in the good old US of A?

As for the article itself, I agree with a lot of the other commenters that big-money advertising is in direct opposition to the principles of the United States, if only because they believe they can trick you into supporting them with a flashy commercial.  Both parties participate, and neither they nor their candidates should have your trust.

This article isn’t about the big, bad Republicans.  It’s about an irritating tactic that’s being used more widely.  Those of you who want to dig up dirt on Democratic campaigning, feel free, I’m sure a lot of people here will read it, just like the non-drive-bys here read the also comment-deluged story about the Obama Democrat-tracking app.

We should know about these things.  If you’d rather live in a country where the politicians are an aristocratic class that does whatever it likes in secrecy, there are already plenty of countries like that.  In the United States, though, distrust of power is the actual foundation of our political process.

Of course, rather than spending all this money, you’d think the Republicans could dramatically increase their chances of winning by fronting a candidate who looks remotely serious.  I mean, a hedge fund manager is a step below the sort of business experience of a Donald Trump, the goal generally being to acquire and strip for parts to sell.  I would also have gone for someone whose religion wouldn’t be a stumbling block, didn’t spend years in France (I’m surprised any Republican would consider a candidate who had so much as VISITED France…), didn’t enact an almost identical healthcare law to the one his supporters are railing against, and maybe didn’t look like someone Captain Kirk had to stop from blowing up a planet.  The East Coast thing doesn’t bode well for him, either.

Romney is the Republican Dukakis, basically.  A well-connected guy who’s pushing hard, but seems like more of a practical joke than a real candidate and doesn’t have much of a chance.

Again, that’s not to point to Obama as anything other than the inevitable President-elect.  I don’t support him, and haven’t seen his policies diverge even the tiniest bit from Bush’s, except to make them worse.  Even in things where he has the ultimate power, like closing the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay (as Commander-in-Chief of the military, he can do it with a phone call), he can’t be bothered to improve the country one bit.

When are the third-party candidates allowed to register…?

Paul Steiger

Aug. 14, 2012, 10:03 a.m.

Walter D. Shutter Jr. is right to call us out on the sentence that said the two C4s “had outspent all other types of outside spending groups in this election cycle….” But it isn’t our arithmetic that was at fault, it was our phrasing that was imprecise. We didn’t mean that the two C4s had outspent all other types TOGETHER, rather that they had outspent each of the other types INDIVIDUALLY. The article has been updated to make this point clear. Thank you, Mr. Shutter.


Aug. 14, 2012, 9:06 a.m.

@Alessandro Machi: Ah.  Amateur lawyer.

I think you’ll find that the law is just a little more complex than just reading of Black’s Law Dictionary, which, by the way, is not a book of statutes and, therefore, has no force of law, any more than, say, Webster’s Third International does.

Just sain’.


Aug. 14, 2012, 9 a.m.

@Don: There are a lot of liberals who agree with you on Chick-Fil-A—the owner/COO/whatever can say whatever dumb homophobic bigoted things he wants.  That’s free speech.  I personally have never had a Chick-Fil-A sandwich because I’ve sworn off crap food (the only thing with which I agree about with Mike Huckabee—if it comes through a car window, it isn’t food).

I actually also agree with you, as a hardcore liberal, on government documents, such as “Fast and Furious,” which, by the way, was nothing much more than a carryover from previous similar operations in the Bush Administration and is a logical outcome of the lax gun laws in states like Arizona, where you can buy yourself an armload of AK-47s at the drop of a hat.  But I digress.  Yes, I believe the Administration should open its records on this and everything else.

But, remember, when the tables are turned and a Republican is in office, I’ll expect the same open records policy from them.

Are you with me, Don?


Aug. 14, 2012, 8:57 a.m.

ProPublica needs to show both sides of the problem if they are tobe believed.  How about the worst ad by a democratic PAC that essentially states that Romney killed the man’s wife.  It turns out that almost none of it was true.  When the Obama campaign was asked about it, they denied any knowledge of the ad or the man.  That was also false as they had a phone conference with the man in May.


Aug. 14, 2012, 8:50 a.m.

I think it naive to believe that liberal “tax status-protected”  entities aren’t spending large sums of money… perhaps their pockets aren’t deep enough to qualify for the “rich getting richer” narrative that is so evocative.  Personally,  both parties and their respective campaign apparatus,  are shameful.  This country is currently drenched in a big money malaise that is perpetuated by an economic class,  not a particular political one.  Redistribution of wealth is not the answer.  Elimination of a social safety net is not the answer.  Deficit reduction,  military spending,  campaign reform…these are part of the slight of hand that both parties use to defer attention from the real issue…the continued erosion of our representative democracy and civil liberties.  Both parties are responsible.  If you are an ideologue on either side… Why dont you come down from the mountaintop and join the rest of us… Who think that compromise actually IS democracy.


Aug. 14, 2012, 8:38 a.m.

The First Amendment is not owned solely by newspaper corporations. After the way liberals attacked Chick-fil-A because its COO spoke out, no honorable defender of liberty would call for “transparency” among private citizens because “transparency” is code for harassment. Instead demand transparency in government—including the Fast and Furious documents. I tire of the self-righteousness of liberals.


Aug. 14, 2012, 8:13 a.m.

locomotivebreath1901: it’s hard to imagine a scenario where liberals could effectively “repress” or “retaliate against” Karl Rove and Dick Armey, who are running the vast money and propaganda machines of Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, or their millionaire supporters.

But nobody is calling for transparency just for right-wing 501(c)(4) organizations. If ALL tax-exempt 401(c)(4) “social organizations” were required to make their donors public, what would be the problem?


Aug. 14, 2012, 8:04 a.m.

Considering how repressive and retaliatory these liberal fascists are toward their political enemies, I have no problem with anonymous contributions.

Philo T Farnsworth

Aug. 14, 2012, 7:29 a.m.

Wow; I’d been away for awhile, too busy to read your comments. What co-workers told me is spookily true. It looks like the troll tsunami has hit you as well? Acorn? I remember Acorn. Probably next, they’ll start drunkenly ranting about The New Black Panthers or Sharia law! Then furtively slip in some link to precious metals grift-away the other bagger sock-puppet’s booze & crank funds (gubmint handowts.) If you’re doing your job of uncovering and telling the obvious truth while providing suitable back-story and elucidating corroboration for our further enlightenment and independent investigation… well, you’re just obviously with the ter’ist hippy muslin Jee-HAD and must be dealt with. Telling folks how they’re perpetually begging to be trickled-down upon, wantonly obsequious to the (now, largely foreign) parasites who steal their equity, property & labor; use their children to die for oil, opium, hegemony. The folks who since 1980, have taken the beacon of individual freedom, shining citadel of Capitalism and turned us into a petty, Feudal, Dark Ages, Theocratic kleptocracy by spewing hate and lies to wet-brained cretins longing for a return of their beloved Fuhrer or inebriate grandiosity hallucinated fantasy of the Confederacy (where Jesus dun rode Him a dinosaur up Archie Bunker Hill to whup d’Yankees, boo-RAH!) Wonder if they mouth the venom, spitting the addled febrile vituperation as they type? They have prepper desert camo snuggies for the SHTF drought? Lie to me mister preacher-man. Tell me who to whup, bossman. WWJS? What ever happened to that whole “truth shall make you free,” ethos? Probably all that crank & booze, huh?


Aug. 14, 2012, 4:02 a.m.

“Liberal partisans are attacking conservative nonprofits for doing the same things that environmentalist groups, anti war groups, and labor groups have been doing for years without a single complaint”.

That’s a really long bow, comparing two organisations whose sole purpose is election funding with groups that have as an extremely peripheral purpose influencing voters.  Nice try though, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of people to swallow such rubbish (they’re the ones who believe that taxing the rich less will help everyone).


Aug. 14, 2012, 2:02 a.m.

libertarian is the new scapegoat label so that conservatives can still feel good about the bigotry, inhumanity, and general disdain for anything rich without the guilty feelings.

the very instant i saw the ad on this site for the new majority agenda i knew this site was not up to standards. seriously if that’s who’s paying you you definitely need to check yourself. First off the new majority agenda is a laughable concept because everyone knows the the majority of American’s don’t believe the “everything is Obama’s fault because he’s black” so called news spewing out of the behinds of the bobbleheads on those pundit republican lie machines.

yes they have unlimited spending, they also have taken a long vacation all summer long instead of creating jobs. Seriously, once we get all large sums of money out of the whitehouse, including and especially large corporate and rich interest groups like the Koch brothers, we can move forward again. Sure the Dems receive some money but let’s put it this way, the dems aren’t trying to destroy SS, medicare, retirement, medicaid, the middle class, the gays, the minorities, the veterans just to make a buck. basically if you aren’t rich but you’re voting republican to send a message then you’re going to screw it up even further, we already have voter suppression and a marked increase in crime due to lack of jobs and lower safety nets since Nov 2010.

Chris Nugent

Aug. 13, 2012, 10:37 p.m.

We no longer have a democracy with the transition from “one man one vote” to “one dollar one vote” as codified recently by the Supreme Court. All this money has turn it from an election to an auction.  And very few of us have bidding paddles.

Sae Your Money Save Your Vote

Florida Chick

Aug. 13, 2012, 10:22 p.m.

How much did Goldman Sachs pour into the BHO campaign in 2008? The firm’s employees were his largest contributor, or second largest.
Glad to see GOP folks level the playinmg field.
Bring it, Rove. We are liking the Ryan addition to the ticket and happy to see them have some cash to spread the truth about financial stewardship.


Aug. 13, 2012, 9:07 p.m.

There is nothing left-wing about calling for 501(c)(4) organizations like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity (and those aligned with Democratic candidates) to be transparent about who funds the hundreds of millions of dollars they are pouring into the political process.

Their tax-exempt status as 501(c)(4) organizations is based on the fiction that they are “social welfare organizations…operated exclusively to promote social welfare.” The IRS defines “promoting social welfare” with this example: “To be operated exclusively to promote social welfare, an organization must operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community (such as by bringing about civic betterment and social improvements).”

The IRS guidelines also note: “The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.”,,id=96178,00.html

Clearly, these organizations exist solely to promote particular candidates and to attack their political opponents. Meanwhile, our tax dollars are subsidizing their subversion of the electoral process, and we are denied the ability to determine what interests are shaping the messages they fund, many of which are full of lies.

For all of you who are attacking ProPublica, whose mission is investigative journalism, you ought to learn a little more about who they are and what they stand for. Unlike Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, they clearly identify their funding supporters (, as well as their professional partners ( on their website.

Uncle Bernie

Aug. 13, 2012, 7:52 p.m.

ProPublica is a left wing group. You are highly partisan, as even a casual perusal shows.


Aug. 13, 2012, 7:39 p.m.

It matters not what party you support, we are in a depression both parties created with their banking buddies. The rule of law will not be enforced by either party for what the bankers did with the blessions of our government at all levels! Look at what gov has done, NDAA & O signs right own, now watch your pensions, what was not stole in 2008 is now up for grabs. You might want to listen to William Black speak on The money you folks are talking about is peanuts to what the thives have took from Americans so far & what is left is in no way safe.
When the media is owned by banksters that keep feeding the politicians money via the Fed & we tax payers pay for it in one way or another, some thing is very wrong. Not only are we facing a gov desperate for money, we are facing a bunch in DC who will carry the economy right off the cliff & the hit will be massive to millions of Americans & billions of the rest of man kind.

No one knows what freedom is any more, evey day it flys out the window as a swarm of Black Swans are ready to fall at any minute & no one knows when that tick will hit, but when it does, the people in power will blame every thing but themselves! The dollar is toast & time is running out. I think you need to the public a servive & tell the truth, no matter who is in office, we have pasted the point of no returnwhen the 1st bail out began decades ago, but that was on a small scale, this is bigger than all the GDP of the world!

Oh yea, this Class Warfare may back fire, folks are not as dumb as the gov thinks!

Chris Nugent

Aug. 13, 2012, 5:48 p.m.

I think the real answer is to drive up the cost per vote by supplying less votes.  Get voter turn out to around 10-15% or the same as some other plutocracy masquerading as a democracy and when they realize how much they are spending per vote and without the outside validation they crave domestially and internationally maybe they’ll shame themselves into election reform.


Aug. 13, 2012, 5:47 p.m.

Howard hits a great point- and let’s factor in the past year with these Super-PACS- how many jobs did they contribute to the economy? My guess is minimal staff to write ads so they can spend the maximum on advertising in their budget. I would be interested to know.

Howard Katzman

Aug. 13, 2012, 5:24 p.m.

hmmm $60 million…

So we are to believe that if we put more money into the hands of the wealthy, they will invest it in the economy…
as opposed to trying to buy elections.

I believe this proves the lie of supply-side economics.

Chris Nugent

Aug. 13, 2012, 4:46 p.m.

@Walter H-Read that headline again.  No?  Try it out loud. See? Now read paragraph three again.  See the difference? I blame Cheney/bush

John Parker

Aug. 13, 2012, 4:41 p.m.

The whole “buy the election” business no matter where it’s coming from stinks. Money needs to be taken out of the formula, period, end of story. The way it’s deemed “legal” now, a guy named Hitler could set up a “dark money group” - and we’d all be goose-stepping down the street right after a brainwashed electorate pulls the lever. Do you see how sinister the whole thing is? Let’s hide behind the cover of darkness, and rip out the heart of real, authentic democracy - this is what’s happening.

Wake up folks before it’s too late - before we hear Wagner played as the national anthem, before we see brown-shirts roaming the streets, before we see some ethnic and/or religious groups be demonized and blamed for everything that’s gone wrong - and wonder what happened. It’s happened before. Remember?  Have we learned anything from being here on the planet as humanoids for 2 million years? Have we?

Alessandro Machi

Aug. 13, 2012, 4:39 p.m.

I would hope as citizens we can unite over good ideas that save main street.  One such idea is Debt Neutrality for consumers so they can pay down their debts.

You can learn more about debt neutrality at,, and you can sign the petition at

Alessandro Machi

Aug. 13, 2012, 4:37 p.m.

Soros is in the background of ProPublica??? Gasp.

That would explain why Obama will never be outed for his backing of Parallel Foreclosure, a clear constitutional violation.


Aug. 13, 2012, 3:54 p.m.

Spending money on ads isn’t going to make much difference hopefully. This Republican push to discredit a President who has been good on many levels, the economy has created millions of jobs, the threat of Osama bin Laden is gone, and our international standing is back where it needs to be. Karl Rove’s tactics might’ve worked at one time, but not anymore.

the other Mike H

Aug. 13, 2012, 3:31 p.m.

I could not resist as so many have misgivings similar to mine.  Wouldn’t be nice if a group that NER likes would do a study to counter the program Glenn Beck ran last year on Soros.  I would call that balanced because then we could do some real fact checking on what liberals and conservatives would call each others extremes.

Now I will spend my Monday night trying to find a similar report on our President’s aligned groups.  Wish me luck.


Aug. 13, 2012, 2:52 p.m.

JuliBarbato: I encourage you to look into what the Romney-Ryan ticket will do for services to help the developmentally disabled and quit worrying about George Soros’ organizations. You know he’s funding those projects, but the point of the ProPublica investigation is that we don’t know where money is coming from for these right-wing 501(c)(4) organizations—and it’s coming in huge amounts that dwarf the efforts of all other similar organizations combined.

ProPublica’s position is that we should have transparency, so we can see who’s funding attack and advocacy ads. What is wrong with requiring this kind of transparency for all 501(c)(4) organizations?

Walter D. Shutter, Jr.

Aug. 13, 2012, 2:45 p.m.

In paragraph 3 of the above article the author notes that two conservative non-profit c4s have outspent all others, including unions, trade associations, PACs, and political parties.  Later on in the article, we get the numbers:
From the two c4s:  Cross roads GPS:          41.7 million
                    Americans for Prosperity:  18.2 Million
                                      Total     59.9 million

From the super PACs:                          55.7 million
From the political parties:                      22.5 million

                                      Total       98.2 million    

WTF!  This is your “analysis of data”?
Here is my analysis:  98.2 is a larger number than 59.9.  Therefore, the super PACs and the political parties outspent the two conservative c4 non-profits by 38.3 million, not vice versa.  For your inability to do basic math, I blame our schools…and Bush.


Aug. 13, 2012, 2:32 p.m.

ACORN has many (over 100) incarnations. It’s interesting that NER (his “real” name, I suppose; must be a droid) gets his/her/its info about Soros from Soros’s foundation. The man is not the saintly philanthropist he presents himself to be. This is precisely what I mean by the darkness of the partisan rut.

Anyway, I’m done. I’ve made my point and NER has (and you have?) proved it. Back to work and caring for my developmentally disabled brother, who, unfortunately, is a citizen of the United States and not Kyrgyzstan.

Rod Tanner

Aug. 13, 2012, 2:27 p.m.

That’s $100,000 or less per year.


Aug. 13, 2012, 2:26 p.m.

Is Kim Barker playing on the racist fears of liberals with her “Dark Money” reference. Also, what about all the money ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN are spending to get Obama re-elected.

Rod Tanner

Aug. 13, 2012, 2:25 p.m.

The incredible thing is that the Ryan budget plan, another GOP upward redistribution of wealth, will increase the deficit by an estimated $7 trillion, despite cutting social programs to the bone.  But facts won’t figure into ‘Merican voters’ decisions.  By early October the Rove and Ailes messaging machines will have ‘Mericans believing that the Ryan plan will triple incomes and net worth of everyone who presently makes less than $100 per year—all paid for voluntarily by the 1%.  Consider that 60 percent of ‘Mericans still believe the Affordable Health Act provides for death panels!!  Repeat after me:  ‘Mericans Я Stupid—more stupid than is possible in order to sustain democracy.

Rod Tanner

Aug. 13, 2012, 2:15 p.m.

@JuliBarbato - Soros has spent virtually nothing this year.  Surely you don’t believe Move On and ACORN (does ACORN still exist?) can spend more than a tiny fraction of what Rove and the Koch Brothers can?  Roberts & Scalia, Inc. aren’t even foolish enough to believe that.

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Buying Your Vote

Buying Your Vote: Dark Money and Big Data

ProPublica is following the money and exploring campaign issues you won't read about elsewhere.

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