Congressional Leaders Are Raising More Dark Money Than Ever - 2020-08-21
Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made a pilgrimage to the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas to meet with mega-donor Sheldon Adelson about the need for Republicans to preserve their congressional majority.
After presenting the GOP's plans alongside officials from the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), the House Republican-aligned super PAC, Ryan simply stepped out of the room. Norm Coleman, the former Minnesota senator who co-founded CLF in 2011 and was the group's first chair, then made the ask to Adelson, closing what ended up to be a $30 million infusion—an amount around 100 times greater than what Ryan would be legally allowed to receive in contributions to national party committee accounts.
PACs that don't donate to or coordinate with campaigns are legally allowed to solicit donations of any amount—with their congressional leadership members just on the other side of a door—because the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling set the table for the invention of a new type of political committee that can raise and spend unlimited sums. But while these super PACs must disclose their donors, those donors can in turn be groups that are opaque in their sources of funding, resulting in enormous amounts of "dark money" or "gray money" flowing to groups that work in close concert with House and Senate leaders in both parties.