When it comes to dark money — money spent trying to influence voters by groups that do not disclose their donors — the focus is often on the federal level. But a considerable amount of dark money is also going to state and local elections. Our weekly roundup looks at dark money spending at the state and federal levels.
A federal appeals court in Alabama has upheld the state’s ban on PAC-to-PAC donations, the Montgomery Advertiser reports. The Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) had sued to overturn the ban, arguing that the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision barred the state from regulating such contributions. Although a lower court initially sided with the ADC, an appeals court said the Supreme Court’s ruling only applied to groups which only make independent expenditures, and not PACs, which can donate to candidates in addition to making independent expenditures. The federal appeals court ruling upholds the appeals court’s decision. The Alabama Legislature approved a law banning PAC-to-PAC donations in 2010, as the practice was often used to hide the true source of a political donation.
A Massachusetts ballot initiative on charter schools is attracting huge amounts of dark money, according to Nonprofit Quarterly. The website reports that more than $18 million has been raised in the battle over the initiative, which would authorize the approval of up to 12 new charter schools per year. Much of that money is from out of state, with one nonprofit lobbying group from New York, Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy, giving more than $6 million of the money supporting the initiative.
In Florida, a new group calling itself Citizens Against Corruption is fighting against a series of liberal dark money organizations, reports Politico. The group is targeting four organizations in the Sunshine State collectively known as The Florida Alliance: Florida Watch Action, America Votes, Florida Strong and Win Florida. However, information about Citizens Against Corruption itself is hard to find. The group is not registered as a political committee and questions from Politico about who is funding the group or how it is organized were not answered.