An investigation by the Center for Responsive Politics and The Washington Post reveals that a coalition of Koch-backed conservative groups raised at least $407 million during the 2012 elections – more than the amount spent by all presidential candidates in 2000 and more than the amount raised by former President George W. Bush in 2004.
Wealthy conservative donors were shielded from disclosure by 17 conservative groups with ties to brothers Charles and David Koch. An analysis of tax returns showed that the majority of the funds originated from two groups, Freedom Partners and TC4 Trust, which routed funds to numerous other groups including the non-profit Americans for Prosperity, which recently launched a new 2.5 million ad campaign against the Affordable Care Act and aimed at influencing the November elections.
In fact, the network of politically active non-profits backed by the Kochs and other conservative donors outspent Karl Rove’s Crossroads super PAC in 2012 and single-handedly matched the national coalition of labor unions, one of the biggest sources of funding for Democrats, according to The Post. The political network also outspent all small donations to both the Romney and Obama campaigns and nearly matched the total spent by the Romney campaign in 2012.
And $407 million is a low estimate, according to ThinkProgress, because some of the groups involved have not yet filed their tax returns.
In June 2012, The Huffington Post reported that the billionaire Koch brothers and a network of wealthy conservative donors planned to spend tens of millions to influence the 2012 elections. It was reported then that they strategized to spend as much as $400 million to defeat President Barack Obama. According to The Washington Post,
The resources and the breadth of the organization make it singular in American politics: an operation conducted outside the campaign finance system, employing an array of groups aimed at stopping what its financiers view as government overreach. Members of the coalition target different constituencies but together have mounted attacks on the new health-care law, federal spending and environmental regulations.
Because all donors are protected from disclosure, it is unclear just how much of the funding came directly from the Koch brothers. The coalition is backed by numerous conservative donors whose donations and identities remain anonymous due to the tax-exempt, non-profit status of the groups in the coalition.
To receive tax emption, 501(c)(4) non-profits are supposed to be “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.” According to ProPublica, “The IRS later opened the door to some forms of political activity by interpreting the statute to mean groups had to be ‘primarily’ engaged in enhancing social welfare.” Both Democrats and Republicans have used the indirect wording to funnel dark money in political fundraising efforts.
Via: The Washington Post