This Week in Dark Money

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

the money shot



quote of the week

“At the Democratic convention, you can get a lot of work done just walking down the street.”
—Bill Burton, cofounder of the pro-Obama super-PAC Priorities USA Action, on wooing donors at the Democratic National Convention. Speaking on ABC, he warned liberal donors to “be very nervous” about outraising pro-Romney groups. That’s basically why Chicago mayor and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel decided this week to step down from an honorary position with the Obama campaign to raise funds for Priorities.


attack ad of the week

The conservative super-PAC Campaign for American Values is out with a new ad attacking President Obama for supporting gay marriage. In a stilted conversation, a couple decides it won’t vote for Obama again because he lacks the values of Mitt Romney. Watch the ad below, and also take a look at these other comically bad anti-gay marriage ads.


stat of the week

$75,000: The amount spent by the dark-money Republican Jewish Coalition on an attack ad in the Charlotte Observer ahead of Obama’s speech Thursday night at the DNC. The ad, which is slated to run next week in four swing-state Jewish newspapers, hits Democrats for omitting in their 2012 platform the pro-Israel rhetoric they included in 2008. Reportedly at Obama’s request, language recognizing Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel was reintroduced to the platform in a convention floor voice vote, a contentious move that may have violated party bylaws.


chart of the week

The election’s 10 weeks away, but spending from outside groups has already eclipsed the $301.6 million spent in 2008. They’ve spent at least $306.2 million so far this election, but as the Center for Responsive Politics notes, that’s a conservative estimate.


more mojo dark-money coverage

How Nonprofits Spend Millions on Elections and Call It Public Welfare: It’s spending by nonprofits, not super-PACs, that may sway this election.
Americans for Prosperity Chief: We Don’t Know If $27 Million in Anti-Obama Ads Has Any Effect: The president of AFP, the conservative group founded by David Koch, also cast doubt on future politically charged ad blitzes.
Karl Rove Jokes About Murdering Rep. Todd Akin: Rove’s Crossroads groups intend to spend $200 million to boot Obama out of the White House.


more must-reads

• Did a Republican appeals court just make Citizens United even worse? ThinkProgress
• Democrats work behind the scenes at the DNC to compete with the GOP’s fundraising advantage. Washington Post
• Democratic strategist Paul Begala rails against super-PACs, while asking donors to give to one supporting Obama. Center for Public Integrity
• 501(c) groups are set to disregard a federal court’s order that they disclose donors by today. Reuters

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.

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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.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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