Want to influence Tuesday’s midterm election but keep your identity a secret from voters? No problem. Here’s how you do it:
Step 1. Pick a super PAC name, treasurer, and bank account.
Step 2. File a short form with the Federal Election Commission.
Step 3. Wait until October 18 to begin spending your money. That way, you won’t have to report your donors until an entire month after Election Day.
This is happening now. And Democrats are leading the way despite decrying political efforts funded by “dark money”—cash that can’t be traced to its ultimate source.
A Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal campaign records indicates that three super PACs that have formed since October 18 have reported spending a combined $1.4 million across three hotly contested U.S. Senate races and one U.S. House race. Super PACs may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for or against political candidates, but they can’t contribute money to candidates’ campaigns directly.
As of Thursday night, these three groups are among 44 political action committees that have formed since October 18.
These groups must by law disclose their donors. But this election cycle, the final pre–Election Day deadline for PACs and super PACs to reveal their donors came and went on October 25—a deadline covering financial activity from October 1 to October 17. Any group that formed after October 17 isn’t subject to this deadline and must first report the identities of its contributors, and the amounts they contributed, on December 6, per federal regulations.