TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Money powers politics. So who is pumping money into the race for the US Senate between incumbent Senator John McCain and Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick?
Often you can't find out.
That's because campaign finance rules allow some organizations to collect what's called Dark Money---money where there's no requirement to report where it came from.
A lot of the money in modern campaigns does not come from donations direct to the candidates. A huge share comes from political action committees. Some of those PACs can be set up in a way that they have no obligation to disclose who is giving them money.
That's called dark money because you're in the dark on who may be trying to influence the candidate.
It takes buckets of money to produce political ads and buy airtime to put them on TV. When you hear this message....
“I'm John McCain and I approved this message.”
“I'm Ann Kirkpatrick and I approved this message."
That tells you the ad came directly from the campaign. But a lot of the ads you see are bankrolled by other organizations called political action committees--PACs, or Super PACs independent from the campaign and candidates.
The law says certain types of PACs do not have to let anyone know who donates to them. That's called dark money---you are in the dark about the donors and why they're supporting a cause or a candidate.
The Center for Responsible Politics tracks campaign spending through its website opensecrets.org. CFP says says Arizona's US Senate race ranks 11th in the nationwide Dark Money derby with not quite 1.6 million dollars. Almost all of that money went to help Republican candidate John McCain.
The biggest independent spender, spending more than 3.5 Million is a conservative PAC called Arizona Grassroots Action. It does disclose the names of its donors so it does not deal in Dark Money.
But the number two player in the Senate race is the conservative, business-oriented U-S Chamber of Commerce which as of last Monday had spent more than 1.5 Million to assist the McCain campaign or oppose Kirkpatrick, it's donor names are anonymous so that is dark money. The U-S Chamber has not supported any Democrat this election year.
Citizens for a Working America is the second largest Dark Money player in the race, spending about 147 thousand dollars to help McCain.
The Center for Responsible Politics shows one liberal source putting Dark Money into the Arizona Senate race: People for the American Way, spending just over 35 hundred dollars to oppose Mc Cain and help Ann Kirkpatrick.