In Return of the Secret Donors, the New York Times notes:
Certainly, it is still illegal for corporations to contribute directly to candidates. But they now have equally potent ways to exert their influence. This election year is the first since the Supreme Court‘s Citizens United decision, which allows corporations for the first time to finance ads that directly support or oppose political candidates. And tax laws and loopholes have permitted a shadow campaign network of Republican-leaning nonprofit groups to collect a flood of anonymous donations and spend it widely.
If the Republicans make big gains in the House and Senate on Election Day, there is rare bipartisan consensus that they will owe part of their victory to the millions of dollars raised and spent by these nonprofit groups, much of which has come from businesses.
. . .some major GOP fundraisers and donors sit on the network’s board of directors. They include: New York venture capitalist Kenneth Langone, who has donated nearly $500,000 to federal candidates and parties since 1989, and Fred Malek of Virginia, who served as a co-chairman of McCain’s fundraising committee in 2008 (and who chairs the boards of both the network and the forum.) Langone is co-founder of Home Depot. Malek is founder of Thayer Capital Partners. Prominent board members of the network also include Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
In its mission statement, the American Action Network says it seeks to promote “center-right policies.” Langone told Bloomberg Television: “We’re not going to focus on the social issues. We’re going to talk about jobs, the economy, defense, terrorism.”
While discovering how much “secret money” is pouring into the First via the American Action Network may take more legwork, one fundraising barometer remains transparent: the 48 hour reports of large contributions ($1,000 and more) to the campaigns themselves. Unlike groups like the American Action Network, candidate campaigns must be transparent.
In the last three days, Walz has filed paperwork for $22,600 in large contributions ($1,000 on 10/15; $3,400 on 10/16 and $18,200.00 on 10/17). Demmer, on the other hand, filed one 48 hour notice for $2,000. Will the lion’s share of pro-Demmer ads come from “secret money”?
When Randy Demmer announced his opposition to the DISCLOSE Act, and said that corporations should be entitled to privacy (unlike large individual contributors to campaign committees, which must disclose), big business interests must have known he was their boy.
Back in mid-July, Demmer told Mark Fischenich of the Mankato Free Press:
“I think privacy in some of the things you do is fine,” Demmer said of the large donors addressed in the legislation. “… What’s the difference between that and somebody contributing to their church or some other nonprofit organization or a (business association)?”
How sad that the Hayfield Republican can’t tell the difference. To help Walz make up the difference between transparent candidate committee funding and the secret dollars aiding Randy Demmer, click here.