For Immediate Release
Public Citizen Unveils Database to Track Record Amounts of Secret Money Being Funneled Into November Elections
Stealth PACs Website Monitors Electioneering Activity of 120 Groups
WASHINGTON - With record amounts of secret money being funneled through nonprofit
organizations to influence the upcoming elections, Public Citizen today
unveiled an Internet database to track the activity.
The new Stealth PACs database is available at http://www.citizen.org/stealthpacs.
The project tracks 120 groups that are working to influence the
elections with large contributions from corporations, unions or wealthy
individuals in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010
decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
All contributors giving more than $5,000 are reported, as are
payments to vendors and other recipients of more than $1,000. The
information on the site will be updated frequently through the Nov. 2
election. Visitors to the website can view electioneering activity
sorted by individual groups, electoral contests and states.
The 120 groups included in the site spent $109 million to influence
elections this year (as reported to the Federal Election Commission
through Oct. 12), led by Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and its related
Crossroads GPS ($18.4 million); the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($15.5
million); the AFL-CIO ($9.4 million); American Future Fund ($7.7
million); and 60 Plus Association ($6.1 million).
“Public Citizen and many others predicted a tidal wave of corporate
money entering and distorting the electoral process after the Citizens
United decision,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.
“But the situation is far worse than we expected. The corporate and
billionaire money – and resultant TV ads – are degrading our democracy,
shaking its very foundations.”
Of the 120 groups, only 29 provide any information about the funders
of their election ads. They reported $33.2 million in contributions. Of
the highest-spending groups, only American Crossroads discloses any
information about its funders; its sister organization, Crossroads GPS,
is a 501(c)(4) and so does not disclose the identities of its donors.
Among reported contributions, roughly half have come from just a few
sources. Of more than 114,000 contributors, only 106 have given more
than $5,000, the previous limit for giving to political action
committees. Yet these donors have accounted for $15.9 million of the
$33.2 million in disclosed contributions. This means that 0.09 percent
of donors have accounted for 48.1 percent of the contributions.
“Some of the groups that are operating in the shadows this year were
around when we studied this phenomenon back in 2004,” said Taylor
Lincoln, research director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.
“Others seem to have sprung up overnight, yet it’s difficult to identify
the ones we know less about.”
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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.