Gavel Grab

MCFN: ‘Dark’ Money in Political Campaigns on the Rise

Individuals contributing to political campaigns are looking for more ways to endorse candidates while avoiding campaign finance laws, according to Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Robinson met with members of the League of Women Voters recently to discuss the issues in campaign finance, reports the Observer & Eccentric Newspaper. The Michigan Campaign Finance Network is a Justice at Stake partner organization.

Robinson says many TV ads for campaigns are “issue advertisements.” They don’t endorse or oppose a candidate; the ads urge the listener to contact a candidate and express their opinion on an issue, the article says.

While speaking at the Livonia Civic Center Library, Robinson noted that expenditures for these advertisements do not have to be reported to the Department of State’s campaign finance reporting system.

Over the past decade, MCFN reported, more than $50 million spent on campaign advertising was not reported to the Michigan Department of State.

“Between 2000 and 2012, there was $61 million in spending and about $35 million was off the books, which means that over half of it is undisclosed,” Robinson said.

In 2012, only 25.4 percent of campaign spending documented by MCFN was reported through the state campaign finance disclosure system, according to the article.

Robinson stated this dark money hidden behind super PACs and other groups have led candidates to “become bystanders in their own elections.”

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