Dark Money Illuminated

“This was a big week for dark money news and a big win for transparency advocates. “  ~Issue One’s Michael Beckel on the Supreme Court’s ruling in the matter of Crossroads v Crew. 

In advance of the recent Supreme Court ruling that promises to shine a light on what’s known as dark money donors, a study revealed more than 75% of those funds get routed through just 15 groups who have collectively spent more than $600 million influencing elections since 2010.


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The “Dark Money Illuminated” report is the most recent study produced by Issue One, a relatively new organization promoting campaign finance reform established in 2014. The member based group has since grown to nearly 200 former elected officials evenly split between both major political parties. Here in Colorado, members of what’s called the Reform Caucus include three former governors among the ten politicians listed, seven of which are democrats.

The 24 page report is accompanied by a spreadsheet with data on over 1,000 transactions which reveal four members of one family contributed $10 million to Americans for Job Security, representing 40% of all contributions to the group that year. Doris Fisher founded the Gap with her late husband in the late 1960’s. The company had become a retail giant by the time of his death in 2009 that would go on to own a number of brands like Old Navy and Banana Republic. Two of the couple’s three sons are long standing members on the Gap’s board of directors and though the family’s political contributions were said to be about advocating for job security, the company they own later announced plans to close 200 stores in 2017.

Michael Beckel manages research efforts for Issue One after stints at the Center for Responsive Politics and The Center for Public Integrity and he told KGNU how his organization spent a year comparing individual donor records against documents filed with the Federal Elections Commission, identifying 53 individual donors that include $100,000 from Anthony Pritzker, the sibling of former U.S. Commerce Secretary during the Obama administration.



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