Capital Research Center: Dark Money Ascendant: Atlantic Philanthropies
By Matthew Vadum
The Institute for Free Speech (formerly the Center for Competitive Politics) found last year that dark money funding fell to just 2.9 percent of all campaign spending during the 2016 election cycle. Moreover, dark money from nonprofit groups has never exceeded 5 percent of campaign spending in the last six election cycles and continues to fall.
More recently, CRC’s own researchers Michael E. Hartmann and Michael Watson examined three flows of money: to direct campaign contributions, to traditional public policy 501(c)(3) groups like think tanks, and to so-called dark money groups like 501(c)(4)s. Hartmann and Watson found that, since the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, spending has increased in all three categories, but expenditures by super PACs and 501(c)(4)s still represents the smallest portion of campaign spending.
So dark money isn’t quite the threat it has been made out to be. Indeed, there is an upside to dark money: it can protect unpopular speech and hold government accountable for its policies and actions.