Dark Money

“Members of Congress should be compelled to wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers, so we could identify their corporate sponsors.”~Caroline Baum

Since a group of Republicans launched a ballot initiative campaign (Stop Dark Money) on Monday to rid Montana campaigns of “Dark Money” and provide full transparency, the Great Falls Tribune asked their readers, “Should ‘full transparency’ be required to assist voters in seeing where political campaign money comes from?”

By the way, “Dark Money” is a term used to define the money raised by groups who don’t have to disclose where they obtain their funding.

There were 248 responses to the Tribune poll and 96% said “Yes” and 4% said “No.”

Although this is a non-scientific poll, the results do show that people want to see transparency when it comes to money used in campaigns. That is great news for the Stop Dark Money folks. It’s too bad that the Montana Legislature failed to do something about this issue during their session earlier this year. That probably means we will have to go through another election cycle with undisclosed money ruining our elections.  That is, unless Montana goes the way of New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who will use, “his power as a regulator of charities and other nonprofit groups to force the transparency.”

According to the Associated Press, Schneiderman “will require nonprofit groups to disclose their political spending, identify donors and detail expenditures such as broadcast and print advertising used in New York campaigns and to push certain issues.”

Maybe Schneiderman can send Montana Attorney General Tim Fox his notes?

As many people who read this blog know, I wrote several columns about campaign flyers during the 2012 election season. I ended up receiving around 135 pieces of campaign literature and some of those flyers were from “Dark Money” groups.

OpenSecrets.org recently added “Dark Money” data on their website and it is interesting (if you are into these things). Back in 2004, almost 94% of “outside spending” information was fully disclosed and in 2012 that disclosure fell to about 41%.

It won’t be easy to rid Montana (and the United States) of “Dark Money.” The minute the language is determined for the ballot initiative, someone somewhere will be looking for loopholes where they can challenge the law. That’s the way it has always been.

But, the idea of politicians wearing uniforms like NASCAR drivers to show their “sponsors” might not be a bad idea. It could even be fun…

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  1. Okay by me as long as the uniforms aren’t fireproof. There are a lot of legislators I’d like to fire.

    • Ha ha – no kidding!

  2. if we do go with the uniform idea, you will need a magnifying glass to read their patches! The people see “full transparency” as clarity, politicians see “full transparency” as invisible.

    • Thanks Barry – maybe the politicians’ staff could wear them, too! -Jack

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