This Week in Dark Money

<a href="">Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig</a>/Flickr

A quick look at the week that was in the world of political dark money.

Can Obama be swift boated? That’s the idea behind this attack ad from Veterans for a Strong America, which slams the president for taking too much credit for Osama bin Laden’s death. The group’s founder tells Mother Jones‘ Adam Weinstein that he’s recruiting Navy SEALs to openly criticize Obama: “We’re gonna be rolling some of those folks out soon.” Want to know who’s funding the group? Sorry, it’s a 501(c)4, so it doesn’t have to reveal its donors or how much money it has.

Wall Street donors are bearish on Obama: In the New York Times Magazine, Nicholas Confessore reports on President Obama’s uneasy relationship with lords of finance who don’t think he’s been friendly enough to their industry. “This administration has a more contemptuous view of big money and of Wall Street than any administration in 40 years,” one Obama donor explains. Also in the magazine, Adam Davidson profiles Edward Conard, one of Romney’s former partners at Bain Capital and a major (and once semi-secret) donor to the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future. Conard is putting the finishing touches on his book, Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong, which argues that the wealth and influence of the superrich are signs of economic strength. 

Occupiers want to get back on the airwaves: The group behind a series of Occupy Wall Street ads that aired last fall is trying to raise $150,000 to revitalize the movement and counteract the influence of super-PACs with a new ad campaign. “You have ten billionaires controlling all the political messaging in this country,” Occupy Spots organizer Gina Levy explained to TechPresident. The relaunched campaign is encouraging supporters to submit their spots for consideration by May 21.

Romney winning fans in the owners’ box: Romney may have “some great friends who are NASCAR team owners,” but Businessweek reports that he also has the support of a number of sports bigwigs, from New York Knicks owner James Dolan to the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones. But Obama remains popular with athletes, who tend to support Democrats.

TV stations must post political ad info: As Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll reports, the Federal Communications Commission has ruled that TV stations must post online information about the political ads they air. The catch? The ruling only applies to the top 50 TV markets, exempting some battleground states entirely. To see if your local stations are covered by the decision, see this handy map by the Sunlight Foundation. (Green means yes, red means no.)

Lawmakers’ super-PAC deal under scrutiny: Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) could be in hot water for setting up a deal in which $50,000 in PAC money was funneled to a super-PAC backing Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) in his tight primary in March. As iWatch News’ Michael Beckel reports, Schock’s move suggests that candidates could use super-PACs to get around limits on campaign donations. (Candidates may not take more than $5,000 from a regular PAC, but super-PACs can spend unlimited money to promote—or attack—a candidate.)

More MotherJones reporting on Dark Money


as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.


as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.