© 2023 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

The Source: "Dark Money" And Campaign Shenanigans In The Era Of Billion Dollar Elections

Chris Eudaily
TPR News

1 million TV ads filling the nation's airwaves and record outside PAC spending are putting 2014's midterm elections on pace to possibly become the most expensive midterm cycle in U.S. history, beating 2010's $4 billion mark. 

For those opposed to big money in political races it has been a bad few years, as the courts have reversed campaign finance reform positions in Citizens United, Speechnow and this year's McCutcheon rulings. All three rulings found that the government was infringing on free speech by regulating how much money could be spent on or donated to elections by individuals, unions, corporations, and outside groups.

Campaign Shenanigans 

Leadership Political Action Committees have been around since the 70s. They allow candidates to raise money in order to donate to other candidates, but a current trend has a lot of eyebrows raised. The Center for Responsive Politics took a look and many say abuse is going on. 


  • Viveca Novak, seniorr editor at the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks money in politics.

Texas Reform


Last week, the Texas Ethics Commission approved a new rule that would force social welfare nonprofits that spend more than 25 percent on political action to disclose their donors. Gov. Perry vetoed a similar law last legislative session, which would have made so-called dark money groups disclose.

Nonprofit 501 (c)(4) and (c)(6) groups across the country spent upwards of $250 million in 2012 without having to tell people where the money came from. We find out how this might be challenged in the courtroom.


  • Joe Nixon, counsel for Empower Texans, a conservative, social-welfare nonprofit

Record Spending


Tomorrow the results will be in on a number of these races and The Center for Public Integrity has been monitoring how much money is being poured into it now. In the battleground states of North Carolina, and Colorado outside groups are outspending candidates, sometimes by wide margins.  Here in Texas we have a number of big-ticket races that we will delve into as well. 

Who spending what where, and why it matters.


  • John Courage, Common Cause of Texas, a liberal advocacy group
  • Michael Beckel, reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative news organization

Stay Connected
Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive