This Week in Dark Money

<a href="">Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig</a>/Flickr

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

A quick look at the week that was in the world of political dark money

Citizens United fever: The debate over the controversial Supreme Court ruling continues. Curious how it could be undone? Check out our DIY guide to ditching the ruling. For more details, iWatch News reports on the argument over whether a constitutional amendment is the best way to overturn it. MoJo‘s Andy Kroll explores whether Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who just asked Supreme Court to reconsider its decision, is reclaiming his status as a campaign-finance reformer. Meanwhile, dark-money fans are lining up to tell the court not to touch Citizens United

Going soft on Obama (sort of): The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters deconstructs the latest ad from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, in which a mom complains that President Obama’s policies have forced her grown children to move back home. The ad’s partly the work of Larry McCarthy, the producer of the infamous 1988 Willie Horton ad:

McCarthy’s new ad, though, strikes a far softer tone. It repeatedly uses the word “change” and breaks from the attack-ad norm by employing professional actors.

Oppo-research group targets Dems:
Andy Kroll reports on Media Tracker, a “nonpartisan” opposition-research group founded by  to dig up dirt on Democrats that can be used in attack ads. “I’m talking about creating long-lasting impact for the conservative movement,” says its founder, a former Republican National Committee staffer. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has a sophisticated ad shop ready to fight back against the likes of Media Trackers, Slate‘s Sasha Issenberg reports.

Where are the liberal megadonors? Also at Slate, Dave Weigel takes a look at why the super-PAC-fueled ideological purging of unworthy GOP candidates isn’t happening on the left. As Michael Vachon, spokesman for conservatives’ favorite boogeyman George Soros, explains, “The reason there’s not a Club for Growth-like organization on the left is that there is a greater diversity of views in the Democratic Party than there is in the Republican Party. There’s less of a hierarchically enforced ideological structure.” 

Super-PACs keep the money flowing to state races: The Sunlight Foundation’s Anupama Narayanswamy reports that super-PACs spent nearly $1 million ahead of Tuesday’s primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky. A 21-year-old millionaire’s pro-Ron Paul super-PAC provided the majority of the $766,000 in outside spending that propelled Republican congressional candidate Thomas Massie to victory in the Bluegrass State. (MoJo‘s Tim Murphy has more his group here. Watch a campaign ad below.) Meanwhile, real-estate interests have spent a “mind boggling” $700,000 attempting to oust a 14-year incumbent in a Republican House primary in California.

A Wall Street slump for Romney: Barack Obama’s difficult relationship with Wall Street donors is well known. Now Mitt Romney is having troubles too, reports the Center for Responsive Politics. Since April, the securities and investment industry has been donating significantly less to his campaign as well as the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future. But Romney is still outraising Obama, who took in just $166,000 from the financial industry last month (and less from Silicon Valley, too).

More Mother Jones reporting on Dark Money


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend