Campaign

Democrats topped GOP in raising, spending ‘dark money’ from undisclosed donors in 2020: report

AP-Andrew Harnik

Democrats reportedly outpaced Republicans in raising and spending so-called “dark money” from undisclosed donors in 2020, according to a new investigation from The New York Times.

The Times found that 15 of the most politically active non-profit organizations that typically support the Democratic Party spent more than $1.5 billion in 2020, while 15 similar groups that usually side with the GOP used about $900 million.

The term dark money is typically used to refer to money spent to sway politics by organizations that are not required to make their donors known. The term, however, does not have an official legal definition.

While nonprofit organizations are permitted to funnel money into partisan politics, it is not supposed to be their main activity, the Times notes.

The newspaper found that a group called the Sixteen Thirty Fund spent more than $410 million in 2020, which was more than the Democratic National Committee (DNC) had used up that year. The fund reportedly received secret donations of $50 million and allocated money to more than 200 entities.

For comparison, the highest spending by a GOP-aligned nonprofit group in 2020 was roughly $195 million by One Nation.

The newspaper noted, however, that its investigation is likely incomplete because of relaxed disclosure regulations and the tendency of some groups to make their financial history opaque.

The stark difference in fundraising between the two parties came as the right was becoming increasingly fractured amid frustrations related to former President Trump. The left, meanwhile, welcomed new megadonors as worries about a second Trump term rose.

The newspaper also analyzed two charities that made political contributions, and found that Democrats again outpaced Republicans. Charities are not supposed to take part in partisan efforts, but some have defied the rules to utilize tax code provisions that let them participate in politics through avenues that are technically not political, including voter education and registration, the Times noted.

Republicans ultimately out-raised Democrats in the 2020 presidential election by roughly $30 million, according to NPR. Trump and the Republican National Committee raked in $1.96 billion, while Biden and the DNC raised $1.69 million.

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