There are currently two kings of the hill among campaign donor groups and both wear conservative crowns.
Unlike super PACS, which do have to reveal their donors, Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity are organized as 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofits, which are permitted to hide the names of their individual or corporate donors. 501(c)(4)s are allowed to engage in a certain amount of political activity, but politics cannot be their primary focus.
Crossroads GPS, founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, spent nearly $42 million, while Americans for Prosperity, which helped launch the Tea Party movement and is supported by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, spent more than $18 million.
Neither group has to disclose the names of its donors under federal law, much to the consternation of campaign-finance reform advocates.
“First of all, it shows how much desire there is for secrecy among huge donors who want to be able to spend money to influence this election without leaving any fingerprints,” Fred Wertheimer, head of Democracy 21
, a watchdog group, told ProPublica. “Secondly, it shows that so far, there is an enormous advantage being played in this election by just two groups that are exercising undue influence in the elections.”
To Learn More: