Millions in Masked Money Was Funneled Into the 2018 Elections

The 2018 election cycle has attracted record spending by partially-disclosing groups that give the appearance of reporting at least some of their donors but, in reality, are little if any more transparent than other ‘dark money’ groups.

Voters may not be left totally in the dark about these groups’ spending but, in many cases, the identities of funders behind the spending ultimately remain hidden. By deploying novel tactics to mask their financial activities, these groups have been able to keep donors secret while giving some illusion of more transparency.

Partially-disclosing groups have already reported $405 million in 2018 election spending, according to federal election records analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics.

This is the third consecutive election cycle that the portion of outside spending made up by partially-disclosed groups has more than doubled. Making up more than 31 percent of all outside spending, spending by partially disclosing groups this election cycle is up from 12.5 percent in 2016 and 6.1 percent in 2014. The 2018 election cycle is even on track to amass around $100 million more in spending by partially disclosing groups than the previous record of $306.9 million in the 2012 election cycle.

Political ad spending by partially-disclosing groups is also on the rise.

On top of the record-breaking portion and volume of spending by partially-disclosing groups, 2018 has also seen more ‘dark money’ funding political advertising than the last two election cycles, according to a new Wesleyan Media Project report produced in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics.

Partially-disclosing groups have accounted for over 42 percent of TV ads during the 2018 election cycle, the Wesleyan Media Project’s research in partnership with the Center for Responsive Politics found.

More than half of the group-sponsored ads for GOP…

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