A Little Something to Temper Confidence in Empirical Analysis of Election Spending

Today Politico unveiled a “38-page IRS filing amounts to the Rosetta Stone of the vast web of” groups participating in the 2012 election:

[A group] whose existence until now was unknown to almost everyone in politics, raised and spent $250 million in 2012 to shape political and policy debate nationwide. . . . The group has about 200 donors, each paying at least $100,000 in annual dues. It raised $256 million in the year after its creation in November 2011, the document shows. And it made grants of $236 million — meaning a totally unknown group was the largest [supporter of conservative groups in the election].

We’re used to seeing “black box” dynamics in tech policy. Now they’re also creeping far into the “public processes” by which we select the architects of those policies. Until there is full, far faster disclosure of 501c6/c4 donations from corporations, we’ll continue to be in the dark on fundamental dynamics of our electoral process during campaign season.

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