Buying Your Vote

Dark Money and Big Data

A series of court rulings led to the creation of super PACs and an influx of “dark money” into politics, fundamentally changing how elections work. ProPublica is following the money and exploring campaign issues you won't read about elsewhere.

Ron Paul Is Really Serious About Transparency

Unlike other candidates, Paul’s campaign reports the smallest expenses, even the 12 cents at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Campaign Spending Shows Political Ties, Self-Dealing

So far, top super PACs and presidential candidates have spent more than $306 million in ways that hint at potential coordination. In some cases, this could violate FEC rules. 

Three Things We Don’t Know About Obama’s Massive Voter Database

President's Obama campaign is collecting detailed data about its supporters. The campaign just won't talk about it.

Untangling a Web of FEC Data

Our Tangled Web graphic shows the 200 biggest recipients of expenditure money from the five major presidential campaigns (Gingrich, Obama, Paul, Romney and Santorum), as well as from major super PACs, from around the middle of 2011 through February, 2012.

Could Corporations Take Tax Breaks on Political 'Dark Money'?

Businesses may be able to use undisclosed, unlimited donations to save on their taxes.

When the GOP Tried to Ban Dark Money

For a brief moment a decade ago, it was Republicans who wanted disclosure of anonymous political donations that Democrats now decry.

Reverse-Engineering Obama’s Message Machine

How different are a campaign's emails to different voters? President Obama's re-election campaign tried at least six different messages sent on behalf of campaign deputy manager Julianna Smoot in an email blast last week.

CPAC Tips: How to Win Friends and Influence

Panels and parties at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference provided a window into how the pros are raising unlimited, undisclosed money this election cycle.

With Spotlight on Super PAC Dollars, Nonprofits Escape Scrutiny

Super PAC filings for 2011 reveal few surprises in identifying contributors: Unions give to Democrats, while businesses back Republicans. Much less is known about the social-welfare nonprofits that might play a big role in the election.

In the Gusher of Super PACs, Even One Named ‘The Internet’

Super PACs with similar-sounding names, satirical motives or undeclared aims are setting the stage for voter confusion in the months ahead. A super PAC called “a SuperPAC”? No kidding.

Our Guide to the Best Coverage on Jon Huntsman and His Record

Jon Huntsman's divergence on some core Republican issues has given him the labels of "moderate" and "second-tier." But the former ambassador to China has also earned conservative praise when it comes to guns and taxes.

Our Guide to the Best Coverage on Rick Santorum and His Record

The best reading on former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to help you cut through the horse-race coverage and get oriented.

FEC Deadlocks (Again) on Guidance for Big-Money Super PACs

Can an ad that's "fully coordinated" with a candidate count as uncoordinated spending by a supposedly independent group? The FEC commissioners bickered but couldn't collectively decide.

Uncoordinated Coordination: Six Reasons Limits on Super PACs Are Barely Limits at All

The Supreme Court made it legal for corporations and unions to spend unlimited money on elections so long as they don't 'coordinate' with candidates. So why does everyone seem to be coordinating?

Super PAC Man Gobbles Up Regulators' Time, Patience

A Florida man has flooded the FEC with filings for a new kind of political action committee, showing how easy it is to create them and how few rules there are.

FEC Data Show Big Jump in Spending by Super PACs and Outside Groups

More money is coming into U.S. politics, and much of it is flowing in through new and barely regulated groups.

As Political Groups Push Envelope, FEC Gridlock Gives ‘De Facto Green Light’

In a new age of more dollars and less disclosure, the FEC’s ongoing stalemate over key areas of campaign finance gives more aggressive political players a chance to push the limits.

Our Guide to the Best Coverage of Herman Cain

Want a feel for what The Hermanator Experience™ is all about? Start here.

Follow ProPublica

Latest Stories from ProPublica