Published in Research and Politics, 2019
Dark money—campaign funds raised by 501(c)(4) designated non-profit corporations whose donors are exempt from disclosure—has become an increasingly large fraction of outside spending in American elections at both the state and the federal level. This paper makes use of the only publicly available donor list for a dark money group in existence today—that of “Americans for Job Security,” who contributed $11 million to two conservative-leaning ballot initiative campaigns in California during the 2012 elections. In comparing the ideological scores of donors of this dark money group to traditional donors to the two conservative propositions, I find a strong liberal tilt of donors to Americans for Job Security—indicating a social pressures motivation behind concealing one’s donation via a dark money group. These results also show disclosure laws have an effect on a donor’s calculus to contribute to a political cause.
Recommended citation: Oklobdzija, S. (2019). Public positions, private giving: Dark money and political donors in the Digital Age. Research & Politics. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053168019832475 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2053168019832475