News Release

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Danny Katz,
CoPIRG Foundation

New Report Details Latest Campaign Finance Numbers on Outside Spending

Details on Secret Money and Super PAC Coffers Too
For Immediate Release

Denver – Unlimited outside spending fueled by a small number of wealthy donors is poised to have an outsized impact on the 2012 elections, according to a new report analyzing the latest campaign filings.   

Today, the national public policy organization Demos and the state public interest organization CoPIRG Foundation (Colorado Public Interest Research Foundation) released “Million-Dollar Megaphones: Super PACs and Unlimited Outside Spending in the 2012 Elections,” which provides a detailed analysis of Federal Election Commission (FEC) data and secondary sources on outside spending and Super PAC fundraising for the first two quarters of the 2012 election cycle.

This new report contains shocking figures, including:

  • Outside spending organizations reported $167.5 million in spending to the FEC.  Of this, $12.7 million (7.6% of the total) was “secret money” that cannot be traced back to an original source.
  • But, because of gaps in reporting requirements, spending reported to the FEC is only part of the picture.  When all types of outside spending on television ads related to the presidential race are taken into account, 50% the spending has been by “dark money” groups that do not disclose their donors. 
  • The Top 5 outside spending groups have accounted for 58.5% of all reported outside spending in the 2012 cycle.
  • More than half (57.1%) of the $230 raised by Super PACs from individuals came from just 47 people giving at least $1 million.  Just over 1,000 donors giving $10,000 or more were responsible for 94% of this fundraising.
  • Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have given a combined $36.3 million to Super PACs in the 2012 cycle.  It would take more than 321,000 average American families donating an equivalent share of their wealth to match the Adelsons’ giving. 

“Today’s outside spending groups act as megaphones for moguls and millionaires,” said Adam Lioz, Counsel for Demos and report co-author.  “The more money they pump in, the louder they’re able to amplify their voices—until a few wealthy individuals and interests are dominating our public square, drowning out the middle and working classes.”

According to CoPIRG Foundation’s Director Danny Katz, “Our analysis in Million-Dollar Megaphones shows clearly that unlimited, corporate, and secret money continues to undermine the principle of ‘one person, one vote,’ and yet our findings are only the tip of the iceberg.  We offer recommendations for every level of government to fight back against the Supreme Court’s warped logic that is distorting our democracy.”

Staff are available for comments both in Denver and Washington DC.

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