McConnell fails to push through campaign spending measure
© Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Chances for disaster aid deal slip amid immigration fight MORE (R-Ky.) has failed to get approval to allow political parties to spend unlimited money in coordination with candidates.

Seeking to bring power back to Republican Party leadership, McConnell tried to insert a rider into the $1.1 trillion omnibus that would have removed limits on coordinated spending, but after rising opposition from Democrats, some Republicans and campaign finance reformers, the rider dropped out of the final bill.

Republicans had also wanted to insert a rider that would have stopped President Obama from issuing an executive order to force government contractors to disclose their campaign finance activities.

ADVERTISEMENT

Republicans, however, did manage to secure a couple of victories — allowing undisclosed political spending — that have dismayed reformers. 

GOP leadership squeezed in riders that will block the IRS from using new regulations to stop “dark money” groups — nonprofits organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code — from using their social welfare status to run political advertisements without disclosing their donors.

Such groups — which include the Conservative Solutions Project, a nonprofit that runs ads promoting GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAnother VPOTUS tries for POTUS: What does history tell us? Tensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress Tensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress MORE (R-Fla.) — have been criticized for pumping millions of dollars’ worth of hidden money into overtly political activities.

Reformers are also concerned about a second rider included in the bill that stops the Securities and Exchange Commission from issuing rules to force corporations to reveal their campaign finance activities to shareholders and the public.

“These riders represent a blatant effort to ensure that hundreds of millions of dollars in secret contributions could continue being laundered into federal elections,” said Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer.

Despite preventing McConnell from getting his big win, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), who publicly opposed the Republican campaign finance riders, says he is unhappy with the outcome. 

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has once again exploited last-minute negotiations over preventing a shutdown to sneak in new laws that empower wealthy special interests over everyday voters,” Deutch told The Hill. 

“Despite more dark money pouring into our elections than ever before, Republicans are actively trying to make secrecy for corporations, billionaires and other big money donors the law of the land.”

A spokesman for McConnell declined to comment.