This Week in Dark Money

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

the money shot

Total raised by super-PACs (so far): $218 million
Ratio of spending by conservative super-PACs to liberal super-PACs: 7.7 to 1
Total raised by Barack Obama: $217.1 million
Total raised by Mitt Romney: $97.9 million
Total raised by congressional candidates: $639.4 million
Total raised by state candidates: $378.6 million
Sources: Center for Responsive Politics, National Institute for Money in State Politics

quote of the week

“This idea of giving public beatings has been around for a long time…You go back to the Dark Ages when they put these people in the stocks or whatever they did, or publicly humiliated them as a deterrent to everybody else—watch this—watch what we do to the guy who did this.”
—Frank VanderSloot, CEO of the direct-marketing company Melaleuca, speaking to Politico about the public humilation of being a Romney megadonor.

stat of the week

$1 billion: How much conservative outside groups plan to spend on the 2012 race for the White House, Politico reports. That includes $400 million from organizations connected to the Koch brothers’ dark-money efforts.

race of the week

David Dewhurst v. Ted Cruz: Outside groups spent more than $6.4 million ahead of Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary between Texas Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and tea partier/former state Solicitor General Cruz. Neither managed to snag more than 50 percent of the vote, so they’re headed to a July runoff—and probably a fresh influx of super-PAC cash.

attack ads of the week

A couple of new attack ads released Tuesday by the Romney campaign and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super-PAC lobbed remarkably similar criticisms at Obama’s investments in energy companies like Solyndra. The Obama campaign and the pro-Obama super-PAC Priorities USA have also aired curiously overlapping ads. It’s illegal for candidates and super-PACs to coordinate their messages, but even if they did, the fines would likely be negligible, and the Federal Election Commission can’t even agree on what exactly defines “coordination.”

Here’s the Romney ad:

And American Crossroads’:

more mojo dark money coverage

• Half of Scott Walker’s Cash Comes From Out-of-State Dark-Money Donors: GOP heavyweights pour millions into “ground zero for the battle against Obama’s liberal agenda.”
• Our Nation’s Biggest Money Problem of All: There appears to be no stopping the tidal wave of money that’s overtaken our political system.
Bye, Bye Buddy: Ex-Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer is dropping out of the presidential race. A look at the political and personal demons that fueled his feisty campaign.
No Disclosure, Please, We’re Contractors: A new bill would make it harder to find out about federal contractors’ dark-money donations.

more must-reads

• Mystery millions: The source of $55 million doled out by a Koch-connected dark-money group remains unknown. Los Angeles Times
• Then: Obama calls super-PAC donors “threat to democracy.” Now: Super-PAC donors mingle at the White House. Sunlight Foundation
• Mitt Romney’s billionaire donors expect a big return on their investments. Rolling Stone
• What does John Edwards’ not guilty verdict mean for the future of campaign finance? Christian Science Monitor

More Mother Jones reporting on Dark Money

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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